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Former Ozark Man Pleads Guilty to Retirement Investment Scheme

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Ozark, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to an investment fraud scheme that targeted the retirement savings of senior citizens.

Steven Edward Gwin, 68, formerly of Ozark, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charges of mail fraud and money laundering contained in a Nov. 8, 2010, federal indictment. Gwin, who spent time in Guatemala and used several aliases and multiple Social Security account numbers, was apprehended in Arizona in April 2012. He remains in federal custody.

Gwin admitted that he was engaged in a scheme to defraud investors from Aug. 17, 2005, to March 14, 2007. Gwin solicited and obtained funds from individuals for investment in various retirement ventures. Gwin conducted seminars for senior citizens in both Missouri and Arkansas to promote these investment programs. As a result, many of the investors Gwin solicited were elderly.

Gwin represented to the individual investors that he would invest their retirement funds in secure, interest-earning investments. Gwin directed individual investors to establish Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) through Sterling Trust Company, a non-bank trust company in Waco, Texas, which provides custodial services on self-directed IRAs. After investors funded their IRA accounts, Gwin transferred the funds to purchase unsecured notes issued by First Nevada Marketing, Inc., a Missouri corporation operated by Gwin.

Gwin spent a portion of the funds on personal items and left investors with losses on their investments. The total amount of investment funds misappropriated by Gwin in this manner is yet to be determined. The government believes the total loss from Gwin’s fraud scheme is more than $1 million but less than $2.5 million.

Under the terms of today’s binding plea agreement, the government and the defendant stipulate to a range of punishment from 70 months to 108 months. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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