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Jury finds ‘Free Capitalist’ Rick Koerber guilty in one of Utah’s biggest fraud cases

Posted at 6:42 PM, Sep 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-20 21:07:22-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A jury found "Free Capitalist" Rick Koerber guilty in what federal prosecutors have claimed is one of Utah's biggest fraud cases.

Rick Koerber outside court in August of 2017.

The jury of eight men and four women found Koerber guilty of 15 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. They found him not guilty on two counts of tax evasion. He faces prison time when he's sentenced in January.

Koerber, who was known for his "Free Capitalist" billboards promoting real-estate investment seminars, TV appearances and radio ads, was charged in what prosecutors alleged was a $100 million Ponzi scheme. He was accused of spending investors' money on real estate, living expenses, a pair of Ferraris and even funding a horror film called "Evil Angel," in addition to paying interest to other investors.

But Koerber insisted the business was legitimate and had assets, but did run into some difficulties.

Federal prosecutors have had three tries to convict Koerber. In 2009, a federal judge threw out the case after ruling the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah violated Koerber's speedy trial rights. Prosecutors appealed and the 10th Circuit Court reversed that decision. After a seven week trial in 2017, a jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared.

This time, the trial lasted only a couple of weeks and the jury deliberated about two-and-a-half days before coming back with the guilty verdicts.

"It's always worth it to seek justice," U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber told reporters outside the federal courthouse.

Huber indicated federal prosecutors would seek prison time, but added that any money to pay back victims of the fraud was likely long gone.