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Once freed and crowing after having beaten federal criminal charges, the self-styled "free capitalist" and former Utah County real estate investment guru Rick Koerber is new facing a new indictment for allegedly operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme.
A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Koerber on 18 charges, the same number he had faced but which had been tossed in 2014 by a judge who cited government misconduct.
The grand jury included charges of wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud in the sale or offering of securities.
Koerber ran a series of entities grouped around his Franklin Squires Cos. and Founders Capital, through which he taught a real estate investment strategy called "equity milling" and took in about $100 million in investments by telling potential investors they could earn 2 percent to 5 percent per month.
Wednesday's indictment says Koerber used about $50 million of investor moneys to repay other investors to make the 2004-2008 operation appear profitable when, according to the indictment, it had never had a winning year. Investors were owed about $47 million when the operation collapsed.
In addition, Koerber allegedly used some of the funds for personal expenses, including $850,000 to buy restaurants, more than $1 million to buy luxury cars, about $5 million to finance a movie and about $425,000 to mint coins. Koerber also used investor funds for adoptions and to have his teeth fixed, the new indictment alleges.
Koerber originally was indicted on three counts in May 2009, with 19 additional charges added in a second indictment that November. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups tossed a key piece of evidence from the first two, leading to a third indictment.
Then, in 2014, Waddoups dismissed the 18 remaining charges, citing "questionable ethical conduct" and a "pattern of neglect" by government prosecutors that kept delaying a trial in a ruling that left no room for new charges.
Government prosecutors advanced the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sent it back for review. Then, last year, Waddoups withdrew from the case and it was assigned to Judge Jill Parrish.
Parrish ruled in August that while the original case was dismissed, it could be refiled. She found Koerber was responsible for many of the delays that had kept the case from going to trial.
The new indictment has been assigned to Judge Dee Benson.
"In reinitiating this prosecution, the United States brings a case that the community deserves to have determined on its merits," U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said Wednesday. "Our intent is to press this matter to such a resolution. We seek a speedy public trial, without undue delay, where a jury of his peers can fairly assess the evidence against the defendant."
Koerber's attorney, Marcus Mumford, on Wednesday cited Waddoups' previous ruling that tossed the case.
"The federal court that heard Rick's case for several years came to the conclusion that there was such a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct that it is now impossible for Mr. Koerber to ever get a fair trial," Mumford said in a text message to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Federal prosecutors had "infected this case with their own egos, abuses of power and with so many lies and half-truths," Mumford said, and were now trying to get "your readers to assume that their false allegations will be more true this time."
A summons is expected for Koerber to make an appearance in court. The charges that would carry the most possible prison time are the wire fraud counts, which carry a penalty of up to 20 years each.