LAWFUEL – Two men were convicted by a federal court jury this afternoon, after a three week trial, on charges of defrauding more than five hundred investors out of more than $32 million through a bogus investment scheme. Robert Jennings, 58, a pastor, who represented that he was the President of Tri Energy, a coal mining company, and Henry Jones, 53, a record company executive, formerly of Marina Del Rey, were convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud charges. In addition, Jones was convicted of money laundering charges and contempt of court for his violation of a federal court order in a related case filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A third defendant, Arthur Simburg, 63, of Portland Oregon, previously pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
Evidence at trial showed that Jones, Simburg and Jennings solicited investors for a coal mine venture and an alleged international gold transaction that was highly secretive and allegedly involved the sale of 20,000 tons of gold between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The solicitation of investments was accomplished largely through nightly call-in telephone conference calls in which investors were promised huge rates of return on the investments, as much as 200 to 300 percent within sixty days. Many of the conference calls also included group prayer, and investors were told that the gold transaction was “divinely inspired” and that it was God’s will for it to come to fruition.
Despite their promises of profitable investments, Jones spent over $21 million of the victim-investors’ money on his own extravagant personal expenses and to fund his Marina Del Rey-based music business. Jones allegedly used the victim-investors’ money to, among other things, purchase a house in Marina Del Rey, a condominium in Culver City, and Ferrari Spider and Porsche Cayenne automobiles. Simburg and Jennings also used victim investor funds to support themselves. The victim-investors ultimately lost more than $32 million to Jones, Simburg and Jennings.
Jennings faces a maximum statutory sentence of 180 years in federal prison and Jones faces a maximum statutory sentence of 250 years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Ruth C. Pinkel
Major Frauds Section
Assistant United States Attorney Douglas A. Axel
Chief, Major Frauds Section