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Boone Resident Charged in Bullion Ponzi-scheme; Arraigned Before Federal Magistrate in Miami

By Paul T. Choate

Aug. 16, 2012. A local Boone resident, formerly of Miami-Dade County, was arrested by FBI agents on Friday, Aug. 10. He appeared in federal court in Charlotte later that day and again in Miami yesterday, according to a news release from the The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Arthur John Schlecht, 53, of 467 Boulder Creek Drive in Boone, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, stated the release from Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service; and Linda B. Charity, Interim Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation.

Schlecht was to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick White yesterday in Miami federal court. Three other men involved in the case are also facing the same conspiracy charges as Schlecht, though they are not facing a charge of committing wire fraud. 

“According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants engaged in a long-term conspiracy to commit fraud through their operation of three corporations, Global Bullion Trading Group, Inc., WJS Funding, Inc., d/b/a Capital Asset Management, and Certified, Inc., d/b/a Certified Clearing,” read the release. “These businesses claimed to be investment brokerage firms offering investors the opportunity to invest in gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion, which would be stored for the investors in depository vaults. The indictment alleges that, instead of purchasing physical bullion as promised, the defendants merely established investment accounts for Capital Asset Management and Certified, Inc. with a broker/dealer in London and used this account to purchase derivative contract investments in precious metals, but never actually purchased any physical metal for the investors.”

Many efforts were reportedly made to conceal Schlecht’s ownership and involvement in his company — Global Bullion Trading Group, Inc. — and a great portion of the money brought into the company was diverted to Schlecht, his family and other third parties to pay for personal items and services. As time went on, as an added measure to cover their tracks, “the defendants engaged in a Ponzi-scheme, through which they used new investors’ money to pay-off previous investors and to cover operating expenses,” said the release.

This is not the first time Schlecht has been involved with fraud charges. According to records on the National Futures Association website, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ordered a permanent injunction against Schlecht and his company, Concord Trading Group, on July 23, 1996 based on telemarking fraud. Concord Trading Group reportedly offered customers options to buy commodities such as oil and natural gas that were not actually available. In addition to sanctions, Schlecht was ordered to pay $1.5 million in customer restitution.

The three other individuals facing charges are Frederick Bart Gomer, 66, of Sunrise, Fla.; Ricardo Jorge Padron, 52, of Miami; and Carlos Rodriguez, 35, of Miami.

To view the full press release from The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, visit justice.gov/usao/fls.