Two Sacramento Men Sentenced for the Second Time in as Many Weeks
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller sentenced two Sacramento men last Wednesday for an investment fraud scheme. Judge Mueller sentenced Ronald Wesley Groves, 71, to 10 years in prison and sentenced Donald Charles Mann, 56, to 17 years and six months in prison. Today, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez sentenced each of them to one more year in prison, to be served consecutively to last week’s sentence, for retaliating against the prosecutor and FBI agents, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, on May 31, 2007, were indicted on 18 counts of wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent investment scheme. After their arraignment, they were released from custody on bond. In February 2008, while awaiting trial, Mann filed four fraudulent liens with the California Secretary of State in Sacramento: two liens against all property belonging to the federal prosecutor and one lien each against the properties belonging to the two FBI agents involved in the investment fraud investigation. Each lien claimed that $101.9 million was owed to either Groves or Mann with $100,000 per day in penalties.
In September 2009, Groves and Mann were charged with four counts of retaliation against federal officials by false claim and slander of title and one count of obstruction of justice. They were taken into custody and have remained in custody since then. On December 13, 2011, both defendants pleaded guilty to two counts of retaliation against federal officials.
According to the first indictment, Groves was the co-founder and president of Money Growth Solutions, which operated from April 2005 to April 2006. Mann was the co-founder and Secretary/Treasurer. During the brief existence of Money Growth Solutions, the defendants raised $4.8 million from 642 investors by promising extremely high rates of return on “international bank trades.” The defendants told investors that these bank trades were a highly secretive investment vehicle known only to a few people around the world.
In June 2011, a jury returned guilty verdicts against Groves and Mann after a nine-day trial. According to evidence presented at their trial, in one program, investors were offered a 10 to 1 return (1,000 percent) on their investment within a matter of weeks. In a later offering, the defendants promised a 40 to 1 return (4,000 percent) in the same amount of time. The defendants told investors that while their money was waiting to be placed into a bank trade, it would be maintained in an escrow account that could not be touched for any other purpose. The defendants also told investors that if they were unable to execute a “bank trade,” the investors would receive their entire investment back plus 6 percent interest within 12 months. With the exception of a few people who were able to obtain refunds, every MGS investor lost their entire investment.
The federal investigation revealed that by April 2006, out of the $4.8 million received, Money Growth Solutions had less than $65,000 remaining in its bank account. Some of that money — $300,000 apiece — went into the pockets of the two defendants. The remainder of the money went to the defendants’ various pet projects, including $300,000 to the coffers of a Liberian presidential candidate and $2.5 million to a Florida company that was supposedly developing a revolutionary battery. The battery company was later determined by the Securities and Exchange Commission to be a scam and its owner was federally indicted.
The two cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney R. Steven Lapham prosecuted the cases.