A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a Boise securities broker on 10 counts of wire fraud after he went missing amid an investigation for a believed Ponzi scheme.
Rodney Allen, 65, vanished amid questions of investment fraud on April 20, forcing his investors to file for an emergency involuntary bankruptcy on April 25 to freeze his assets. At least 77 creditors are named in the bankruptcy case, which is separate from the new indictment.
The Idaho Department of Finance began its investigation after questions about whether his company, KA Investments LLC, was certified and about the payments he was making to investors. According to the indictment, Allen “did devise a scheme to defraud, as to material matters, clients of his brokerage company, KA Investments.”
A Ponzi scheme is when one investor’s money is essentially used to pay other investors back.
Allen, according to the indictment, provided his clients with monthly statements saying they were earning positive returns on investments — 1.6 to 1.9 percent, according to examples cited in the indictment. In truth, they were earning negative returns, in some cases as low as 36 percent less than they originally invested, the indictment claims.
The statements also said Allen was taking a 14 percent to 18 percent commission on their investment profits, when he was instead taking their money for his own personal use. The indictment leaves unclear how much Allen was actually investing on behalf of his clients. But he did have a TD Ameritrade account with some funds in it, prosecutors say, and past testimony in the separate bankruptcy case indicated he had an account with brokerage firm TradeStation.
KA Investments has been a registered Idaho business since 2013. But the Idaho Department of Finance verified that Allen was not a licensed securities broker.
The indictment calls for Allen’s assets to be seized and forfeited if he is convicted. According to the indictment, Allen had at least $4.2 million in forfeitable property, including a Boise home, a McCall property and a 2017 Sierra Denali that he purchased with what the U.S. Attorney’s Office believes was illegally obtained money.
Allen also reportedly has about $21,000 in a savings account and $176,000 in the Ameritrade account, both of which are now subject to forfeiture if he is convicted.
It was unclear as of Wednesday how much money Allen was accused of wrongfully taking, but court documents show the gross proceeds exceeded $4 million.
Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A warrant for Allen’s arrest has been issued.
As of Wednesday, Boise police reported that Allen was still missing. The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Allen’s arrest. In addition, Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to Allen’s arrest, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Investors say trust led to theft
When the search for Allen began, friends and family — some of whom were also investors — were worried about his well-being, not their money.
According to court records, Allen’s wife reportedly told a friend that Allen had taken his passport, cash and a gun from a safe in their home the morning of April 20 before going to work.
Allen’s pickup was found abandoned April 22 along the Snake River, about 6 miles upstream from Swan Falls.
April 20 was also the date Allen had an appointment to meet with an Idaho Department of Finance investigator.
Allen’s investors grew concerned about their finances, and on April 28, Idaho Chief Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers froze KA Investments’ bank accounts. He also ordered Allen and KA Investments to, through an appointed trustee, turn over any income tax returns and any related refunds.
At least 77 creditors are now involved in the involuntary bankruptcy case. Their stories vary, but a common theme so far is that many knew and trusted him.
One more recent complaint claims that shortly before Allen went missing, someone deposited $182,000 from an investor into one of his business accounts.
Jack and Sharon Christine Archer had invested with Allen since January 2016, starting with $58,000, according to their complaint filed last month. In April 2016, they invested another $19,500.
According to the complaint, KA Investments provided the couple with monthly statements reporting they were earning healthy returns. On March 22, 2017, the couple withdrew $20,000 from their account with the company.
“The continuing hefty returns posted by KA, and the withdrawal of funds at any time as KA had promised, increased (the Archers’) confidence in KA Investments,” the complaint states.
The couple obtained a home equity loan in April 2017 with the intent to invest the money with KA Investments. The Archers delivered a cashiers check for $182,000, dated April 17, to KA Investments on April 19, according to the complaint.
The check cleared on April 20 — the same day Allen went missing.
The Archers’ attorney, Randall French, told the Statesman that his clients’ $182,000 was later placed in a KA account at Idaho Independent Bank. The Archers believe it is still there, he said. His clients have asked that it be paid to them, arguing the money is not part of the bankruptcy estate.
This report has been corrected to note Allen was indicted Tuesday.