Woman gets nine years for Redstone Castle scam | AspenTimes.com

Woman gets nine years for Redstone Castle scam

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” After winning an appeal she hoped would reduce her sentence, Jannice Schmidt has again received nine years in prison for her role a $56 million investment fraud from which proceeds were used to buy the Redstone Castle.

Schmidt had pleaded guilty to securities fraud and criminal forfeiture and was originally sentenced in 2006 to nine years in prison for her part in the massive fraud scheme. But In August 2007, the 10th District Court of Appeals vacated her sentence and ordered the district court to reconsider the amount of financial loss she caused the victims and resentence her, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn gave Schmidt to the exact same sentence Thursday, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Dorschner, but at the direction of the appeals court, he gave more facts for the basis of the sentence.

“(Thursday’s) sentence is definitely appropriate given the amount of money investors lost in this illegal scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Troy Eid in a statement.

Schmidt, along with her husband Norman Schmidt, and five other defendants, were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 16, 2004, on numerous charges related to the investment scheme. In a trial last year, Jannice’s husband Norman, of Denver, was convicted of 37 felony counts, including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.

Also convicted were Charles Franklin Lewis, of Littleton, on 10 felony counts covering the same charges Schmidt was convicted of; and George Alan Weed of Benton, Ill., and Michael Duane Smith of Colbert, Wash. Weed was convicted on one count each of mail, wire and securities fraud. Smith was convicted on three security fraud counts. George Beros, of Ohio, pleaded guilty to a count of securities fraud and was sentenced in August to a year in prison and $286,739 in restitution to victims.

One man, Peter A.W. Moss, of London, England, remains at large. The remaining suspects face sentencing in April and June.

During the course of the two-and-a-half-year investigation, agents seized approximately 60 bank accounts, eight NASCAR race cars, one race truck, plus other race related vehicles and items. The value of seized assets totals about $24,000,000. Agents also seized the Redstone Castle.

Agents from the FBI, IRS and Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Securities said they conducted over 800 interviews, reviewed close to 100,000 pages of documents, and invested tens of thousands of hours investigating the scheme. The Justice Department also requested assistance from seven foreign countries.

Investigators say that from 1999-2003, those behind the investment scheme claimed it was high-yield and low-risk, used proceeds differently from what was promised to investors and even mailed out false account statements. They believe shell companies were used to launder funds from the investment scheme to buy the 42-room castle. The scam affected over 1,000 victims.

Leon and Debbie Harte headed up the $6.5 million purchase. Leon Harte died before the 2004 indictments were handed down. Investigators believe Debbie Harte, who had been divorced from Leon before his death, was not a participant in the scheme.

The Redstone Castle was built around the start of the 20th century by coal magnate John Osgood. The historic castle was sold by the IRS at auction in 2005 for $4 million to Ralli Dimitrius, a part-time Aspen resident. He reopened the castle for public tours last year. Redstone is south of Carbondale in the Crystal River Valley.


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