Olson says he’s guilty of fraud
Investment firm to repay victims
CONCORD — Aaron E. Olson, 39, of Rindge pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion at the U.S. District Court in Concord on Thursday, in connection with a fraudulent investment scheme in which Olson admitted he stole millions of dollars from his investors.
When asked Thursday by Judge Landya B. McCafferty if the facts outlined by the prosecution were true, Olson replied simply, “Yes, it was.” When asked if he was entering a guilty plea because he was in fact guilty, Olson replied, “Yes, I am.”
Olson could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each charge. Olson has entered a plea agreement, in which sentence could be reduced to a 42-month sentence. Olson’s sentence, however, is still ultimately up to the court, which will decide his sentencing in September.
Olson may be required, as part of his plea agreement, to pay restitution to his investors, instead of paying the back taxes he owes to the government. How much he will be required to repay will be decided at his sentencing.
Olson pleaded guilty to falsely reporting his taxes over the course of several years, 2007 through 2010. During that time, he was the owner of an investment business known as AEO, which he started in 2007. In 2010, he also began a secondary investment business called KMO Associates. Olson ran both operations from an office in Jaffrey, and used them to obtain $27.8 million from friends, family and reportedly at least one business, Park Construction, to invest on their behalf. When news of the scandal broke, it rocked the Finnish community in Rindge, Jaffrey and New Ipswich, where some of Olson’s investors reside.
Olson used approximately $2.6 million of his investor’s money for his own gains, and also used some of the investors’ money to make fraudulent payments to other investors, according to the state’s attorney. In June 2012, the Norby brothers of Rindge, the owners of Park Construction, filed a suit against Olson’s uncle and cousin, Eric and Ted Olson, alleging they had benefited from the scheme, which cost the construction company more than $15 million, according to court documents. The case was settled out of court.
From 2007 to 2010, Olson filed fraudulent tax returns with the IRS, in which he understated the income from his fraudulent investments by $664,000, according to Olson’s plea bargain. He also failed to issue Forms 1099 with the Internal Revenue Service, which summarizes investors’ annual gains and losses.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Zuckerman, who is prosecuting the case, told McCafferty that attempts had been made to contact all the investors who had lost their investments with Olson, but several had declined to come forward, and finding them all has been made difficult by the fact that several investors had pooled funds and invested through a single person.
“In many instances, victims have elected not to come forward or provide information,” said Zuckerman.
Efforts had been made to reach out to all of them, said Zuckerman, with a focus on those who had lost the most.
Carla Olin, one of Olson’s investors, said in a recent interview that she and her husband had essentially given up on seeing their investments again. The couple, who work in real estate, lost more than $300,000 in Olson’s investment scheme. That money was savings, said Olin, so they have been able to keep their standard of living. But that was not the case with everyone who invested with Olson, she noted.
“We’ve just kind of moved on,” said Olin. “It’s been a tough situation. It would be nice if we could get something back. We weren’t living off [of the money we invested] so it didn’t impact our day-to-day much. I know that some people, they were living on it day-to-day. It’s been quite horrific for some.” Particularly for those people, Olin said, “I’m glad to hear that things are being done.”
Following the hearing, McCafferty released Olson on his own recognizance. Zuckerman told McCafferty that he was not concerned that Olson might be a flight risk, as he has been aware of the investigation since its inception and has been cooperative.