FBI arrests Beverly Hills con man for $9-million hemp rip-off

Mark Roy Anderson of Beverly Hills collected $9 million over 4 years from traders in his hemp farm on the outskirts of Bakersfield, however there was one downside, the FBI says: The farm didn’t exist.

Anderson, the traders found, is a convicted con artist who began swindling individuals no less than three a long time in the past. He launched his purported hemp enterprise instantly after his Might 2019 launch from the federal jail in Texas the place he had served greater than 11 years for an oil funding rip-off, federal authorities stated.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Anderson on 5 counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors stated he tricked traders into funding his sham hemp enterprise by way of an organization he referred to as Harvest Farm Group.

Anderson, 68, used a few of the cash to purchase a $1.3-million gated residence surrounded by citrus groves in Ojai, in accordance with the FBI. He diverted one other $2.3 million to private bills, together with greater than $650,000 for classic and luxurious cars, $13,000 for chartered non-public jet flights and $142,000 for merchandise from Williams-Sonoma, Ferragamo, Crate & Barrel and different retailers, the FBI alleged in a felony grievance.

Anderson, who was arrested Might 9 and has been in jail since, couldn’t be reached. His lawyer, Brett A. Greenfield, didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Anderson was a Nevada lawyer, however his felony file bought him disbarred in 1993. His rap sheet is intensive, and a few of his crimes foreshadowed the alleged hemp swindle.

In 1988, Anderson bought one sufferer to pay him $400,000 for an curiosity in a Beverly Hills workplace constructing that he falsely claimed to personal, prosecutors say. He bought one other to pay $175,000 for an curiosity in a La Jolla constructing that he didn’t personal. For these and associated crimes, he pleaded responsible to grand theft and different expenses and was sentenced to 4 years in state jail.

Additionally within the Nineteen Eighties, Anderson ran a Ponzi-style scheme to cheat traders within the purported restoration of historic buildings across the nation. He was sentenced to seven extra years in jail.

He moved on to the oil funding swindle, which value victims greater than $9 million, in accordance with prosecutors. After pleading responsible to federal expenses of wire fraud and cash laundering, Anderson despatched the choose a handwritten letter in Might 2012 saying he was “incompetent and inept in coping with cash.”

“Twenty years in the past, I went to jail for fraud,” Anderson wrote. “It was a horrible expertise. I misplaced my marriage, all my possessions. It destroyed my self-respect. After I bought out, I used to be terrified to ever return.”

He began consuming closely across the time he hatched the oil rip-off, which “made issues worse,” Anderson wrote. “I’d pray at evening to not get up.”

Anderson, then in his 50s, instructed the choose he was involved he would die in jail. “I’m broken and damaged,” he wrote. “There may be nothing left in me. My productive life is over.” He referred to as himself “a failure, a fraud and a humiliation.”

His brother, Stan Anderson, despatched the choose a letter saying Mark had served on the enterprise advisory council of the Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee. He connected an autographed photograph of former President George W. Bush thanking Mark Roy Anderson for supporting the Republican Nationwide Committee.

After serving about seven years of his sentence, Anderson was launched from jail underneath an aged offender pilot undertaking and positioned in house detention in Beverly Hills for 18 months. In November 2020, he began a three-year time period of supervised launch. A situation of his probation was that he not interact in funding tasks.

However by then, his hemp funding enterprise was properly underway, in accordance with an arrest grievance by FBI agent Richard T. Higgins. Victims instructed the FBI that Anderson claimed he was rising hemp on his farm in Kern County for conversion into medical-grade hashish merchandise, Higgins wrote.

Two of the traders finally employed a non-public investigator. They found that the purported hemp farm was really a winery that Anderson didn’t personal, regardless of his assurances that he’d accomplished three profitable harvests that had been “extraordinarily worthwhile,” Higgins stated.

The images of the would-be harvests turned out to be inventory photographs downloaded from the web, in accordance with Higgins.

An lawyer for one of many traders had requested Anderson to verify that he had no prior felony convictions and was not the Mark Roy Anderson who had gone to jail for fraud. Anderson, Higgins stated, assured the lawyer that the con artist was any person else.

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