LAS VEGAS -- A controversial family court judge has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of defrauding people of more than $3 million over a 10-year period.
Clark County Family Court Judge Steven Jones, a 20-year member of the bench, has been charged by federal authorities with conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering crimes for devising and participating in an investment fraud scheme in which he and five others swindled more than $3 million from victims, announced Daniel Bogden, United States Attorney for Nevada.
Jones, 54, was indicted along with Thomas A. Cecrle, Jr., 55, and Terry J. Wolfe, 57, all of Henderson, Constance C. Fenton, 68, of Gig Harbor, Wash., Mark L. Hansen, 54, of Corvallis, Ore., and Ashlee M. Martin, 38, of Las Vegas. The group faces a total of 20 charges including one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of engaging in money transactions in criminally-derived property, and nine counts of money laundering.
Cecrle was arrested Wednesday morning at his home in Henderson. Wolfe, Hansen and Martin also were arrested Wednesday. The I-Team's George Knapp reports Jones is negotiating his surrender as a warrant is being served at his Henderson home. Jones previously faced domestic violence charges and investigation by Judicial Discipline.
According to the indictment, Cecrle served as a point man in the scheme, which began in September 2002, and Jones used his position as a judge to soothe disgruntled investors by vouching for Cecrle's made-up credentials. The judge allegedly met with investors in his chambers and even stepped in to stop legal proceedings against Cecrle.
Victims were solicited by mail, telephone and the Internet with promises that they could make big money on short-term loans. Cecrle represented himself as a federal government employee who could access to public officials and secret government programs, including property rights on the Strip and access to World War I bonds.
People would need to invest money with Cecrle -- who actually was unemployed and held no rights -- in order to make money, the scheme held. Victims typically were asked for odd amounts of money under $10,000. They were promised returns "in excess of several thousand percentage points," according to the indictment.
The schemers used the money for their personal and gambling expenses, sometimes going back to victims more than once for additional cash. Jones and Cecrle maintained a joint bank account through which they personally took in more than $250,000 in fraudulent investments.
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