Restitution order in fraud case pending
The sentencing of Aaron Olson of Rindge, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges in May, has been delayed, as prosecutors and defense attorneys work to complete a restitution order. The order could potentially call for the return of up to $27.8 million to Olson’s friends, family and others who invested funds with him, including residents of Jaffrey and Rindge.
Olson was scheduled for sentencing at the U.S. District Court in Concord on Sept. 26, but that hearing has been postponed until Oct. 30, according to U.S. Attorney Mark Zuckerman, the prosecutor in the case.
Olson pleaded guilty to multiple charges of tax evasion in May, in connection with a Ponzi scheme in which Olson defrauded investors of millions of dollars. In May, Olson also reached a plea agreement with the N.H. Bureau of Securities Regulation, agreeing to pay a $200,000 fine after the Bureau charged him with committing fraud by commingling investor funds with his own, recommending and trading risky investments, failing to maintain adequate accountings of gains and losses and sending false statements to investors in order to perpetuate his scheme. According to the agreement, payment of court-ordered restitution will take precedence over paying the Bureau of Securities’ fine.
The defense has filed for a continuance of the hearing, with the assent of the prosecution, in order to compile a restitution schedule to propose to the court, according to Zuckerman.
As part of Olson’s plea agreement, prosecutors are suggesting up to three and a half years in prison for Olson. In addition, Olson will likely be ordered to pay restitution to people who invested with him through his corporations in lieu of paying back taxes on funds from investors that he funneled through his investment companies AEO Associates and KMO Associates. AEO Associates was never registered to conduct business in New Hampshire, and KMO was registered as a corporation in Massachusetts, but neither company was ever licensed to conduct securities business in New Hampshire. Also, Olson was not licensed to conduct securities business.
During Olson’s plea hearing in May, Zuckerman informed the court that the process of tracking down investors had begun, but had not been completed. On Tuesday, Zuckerman said the process of identifying investors and notifying them was complete and the delay was connected to ascertaining the proper amounts to request of the courts for restitution.
“We’re fairly far along in that process,” said Zuckerman. “It was just not clear at this point that it would be completed by the hearing date, so the defense has asked for, with our assent, for another 30 days.”
Zuckerman said he would not comment on any details of the restitution schedule, including the number of investors involved or the restitution amounts, until Olson’s sentencing hearing in October. Court documents detail that Olson defrauded investors of $27.8 million and used $2.6 million for his own purposes.
In May, KMO saw a favorable return in its suit against the town of Fitzwilliam, which may lead to a source of funds with which to pay potential restitution costs. Olson, through KMO, has sought permission to retrieve previously mined granite, which state environmental officials have reported may be worth millions of dollars, from the Webb Hill Quarry in Fitzwilliam’s residential district. KMO first attempted to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to allow extraction of previously mined granite in the residential district. When that failed at the polls, KMO filed a civil lawsuit against the town, claiming the company did not have to file a mining application with the town, as state mining laws supersede town zoning. The courts sided with KMO on the issue. Fitzwilliam Planning Board Vice-Chair Macreay Landy has said the town does not intend to further appeal the decision, but will have the opportunity to voice concerns during the course of any application to mine that KMO might file with the state.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.