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Ponzi Man Gets 17 Years to Think About it

(CN) - An Austin man who used unwitting retired NFL players to promote his $50 million Ponzi scheme was sentenced Friday to 17 years in federal prison for victimizing more than 300 people. Kurt Branham Barton, 44, was president and CEO of Triton Financial LLC.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks also ordered Barton to pay more than $63,000 in restitution and to spend 5 years under supervised release when he gets out.

"Barton's scheme adversely affected the lives of many investors who trusted him with not only with their money but with their faith," FBI agent Cory Nelson said in a statement. "His reckless actions were driven by greed and selfishness as he continued to seek out more victims to perpetuate the misery to others and supplement his extravagant lifestyle.

"The other victims in this tragedy are the reputations of the retired National Football League players, who Mr. Barton used to market his company and then recruit more victims for his Ponzi scheme."

A federal jury convicted Barton on Aug. 17 of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud, 17 counts of money laundering, securities fraud, and five counts of making a false statement to get loans.

Barton told investors, including members of his family, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, business leaders and professional football players, that Triton would buy properties, businesses and other assets with their money. But it was a Ponzi scheme in which he used new money to pay old investors, while skimming for himself.

Barton used prominent former NFL players and Heisman Trophy winners to solicit investors. He fabricated account statements and presented them to financial institutions, commercial lenders and potential investors.

The SEC sued Triton in 2009, accusing it of defrauding investors of $8.4 million. The firm was placed in receivership.

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