Ponzi Scheme Could Bring Life Sentence

AUSTIN (CN) – The founder of Triton Financial cost his customers $41 million in a Ponzi scheme, and enlisted NFL players and Heisman Trophy winters to help him do it, federal prosecutors say in a 38-count indictment. Kurt Branham Barton, 43, of Austin, is accused of conspiracy, securities fraud, money laundering and other crimes.

     Barton, founder, CEO and president of Triton Financial, ran the Ponzi scam for 4 years, prosecutors say. He told more than 300 investors that he would use their money to buy properties, businesses and other assets, and “according to the indictment, Barton used prominent former National Football League players and Heisman Trophy winners to solicit and encourage additional investors,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not indicate whether the football players knew Barton was running a Ponzi scam; it does not name them, nor indicate that they are suspected of committing any crimes.
     To conceal his scheme, Barton “presented fabricated and fictitious versions of his E-Trade monthly account statement to financial institutions, commercial lenders and potential investors,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s statement.
The SEC sued Triton in 2009, saying it had defrauded investors of $8.4 million. The firm was placed in receivership.
If convicted, Barton faces up to life in prison and restitution.

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