Investment scam nets prison for two men

Two men have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a high-yield investment fraud scheme. Gary Colombo, 54, of Las Vegas, and Michael Jenkins, 45, of Memphis, Tenn., were sentenced Tuesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Wolle.

Colombo was sentenced to nearly five years in prison, and Jenkins was sentenced to four years in prison.

Wolle ordered both defendants to pay $10 million in restitution.

According to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office, Colombo and Jenkins persuaded several people in 2003 to invest large sums of money in the scheme.

Colombo, Jenkins, and a third defendant, Daniel Ellis, who is now deceased, were indicted in April 2007. Colombo and Jenkins pleaded guilty this summer to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In 2003, the defendants promised victims "no risk" and "high gain" investments on sums of $10 million or more.

The defendants also promised that the investors' funds would be securely held in a major bank and returned to them within a specified time.

The defendants used corporate alter egos through which the investment program was offered. Entities involved in the scheme include "Arquest, Inc," "ZAG, LLC", and FRETUS FIDUCIA PRIVATE BANK.

The defendants persuaded at least three persons to invest a total of more than $30 million, but the money was never invested and instead was used for personal gain, including the purchase of luxury automobiles and multiple homes in Grand Junction, Colo.