Jury deliberating in trial of ‘Free Capitalist’ Rick Koerber

Posted at 7:12 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-07 08:31:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A jury is now deliberating in the $100 million fraud trial of "Free Capitalist" Rick Koerber.

Koerber left court with his family on Friday night, feeling good that he testified in his own defense and confident in his odds before a jury.

"The charges are false. I take responsibility for everything my business did. I’m confident that in the end, time’s on the side of truth," he told reporters.

After seven weeks of testimony, the jury on Friday heard closing arguments in Koerber's trial on allegations he took investors' money for housing, expensive cars and living costs.

"How he spent a good portion of that money is what proves the fraud," assistant U.S. Attorney for Utah Stewart Walz told the jury.

Walz argued to the jury that Koerber tried to project an "image of success," purchasing Ferraris with investors' money. The feds argued that Koerber ran a Ponzi scheme, taking money from some investors to pay others.

"This was designed to suck money into Rick Koerber’s personal piggy bank," Walz argued.

However, Koerber's defense attorney argued there was no deception and no fraud. Marcus Mumford told the jury that Koerber was running a successful business with $127 million in assets.

"The government hasn’t presented any evidence of a failing company, other than what Mr. Koerber has admitted. He ran into difficulties. But they shouldn’t be allowed to create the circumstances they use to prove what wasn’t necessarily there before," he said. "If it's OK to succeed, it's got to be OK to fail."

Mumford accused the government of picking and choosing evidence it used to target Koerber, without presenting the full picture.

"Who's deceiving who?" he asked the jury.

A decade ago, Koerber was everywhere in Utah -- on TV, billboards and the radio with his "Free Capitalist" investment seminars. This is the second time that federal prosecutors have gone after Koerber. They originally charged him in 2009, but it was dismissed when a judge ruled prosecutors violated his speedy trial rights.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah went to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and won the ability to seek another indictment. The trial is one of the largest fraud cases prosecuted in Utah.

The jury deliberated late Friday and was told to return Monday.