SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of Rick Koerber, the "Free Capitalist" whom federal prosecutors said perpetuated one of Utah's largest fraud schemes.
Koerber had appealed his 2018 conviction on fraud charges, asserting a number of issues from trial management to constitutional violations. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court, based in Denver, rejected all of them.
Koerber was known in Utah for his billboards and other ads touting seminars for the "Free Capitalist." Prosecutors claimed his victims were bilked out of about $100 million. The 10th Circuit ruling said it was $45 million.
"Koerber raised nearly 100 million dollars by creating a cult of personality and promising investors high returns with low risk. This decision should remind potential fraudsters that they will be caught and punished, and should remind potential victims that promises of easy money and large returns on investment are too good to be true," said acting U.S. Attorney for Utah Andrea Martinez in a statement on Friday.
It was a difficult prosecution for the federal government. Their first try ended in the case being thrown out over accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. The appeals court reinstated it. The second try ended in a mistrial. The third trial ended in a guilty verdict on all but two counts.
Koerber's sentencing resulted in supporters heckling the judge and one man being physically dragged out of the courtroom. Koerber was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
Read the 10th Circuit Court ruling here: