Jailed Pahrump developer Hans Seibt ran a "fairly sophisticated" Ponzi scheme, swindling seniors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, a state prosecutor charged in court Monday.
"Essentially, the victims had no security for their investments," Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Segal said.
Segal asked Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis to set bail at $310,000 on the 31 felony charges of securities fraud and theft facing the bankrupt Seibt.
Lippis held off setting bail, however, until the county public defender's office, which she appointed to represent Seibt, has a chance to review the criminal case.
A 35-page complaint against Seibt cites the cases of seven investors who lost more than $800,000, Segal said.
But the losses could run into millions of dollars when all of the hundreds of investors in Nevada and around the country are considered.
Seibt, 70, left many investors without their life savings after he filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, reporting $70 million in debts.
When Lippis asked Seibt, who made his initial court appearance in jail garb and chains, whether he understood the charges against him, he replied, "Yes, I do."
Lippis set an Aug. 8 preliminary hearing.
Seibt was arrested last week after a nearly three-year investigation by the securities division of the secretary of state's office.
In seeking the hefty bail Monday, Segal said Seibt, who has family in Germany, faces significant prison time if convicted and is considered a flight risk.
Each of the 25 securities fraud charges draws one to 20 years in prison. All but one of those charges could each earn Seibt an additional one to 20 years behind bars because the victims are older than 60. The six theft charges each draw one to 10 years.
If Seibt is able to make bail, Segal said he intends to ask for a hearing on the source of the funds to make sure none of the money was obtained from ill-gotten gains. The trustee in Seibt's bankruptcy case has said he was unable to recover any assets from Seibt to give back to his investors.
The complaint alleges Seibt used two of his companies, HSLV Development Corp. and Clark and Nye County Development Corp., to solicit investments of $10,000 or more.
He offered trust deeds, joint venture agreements and subscription agreements, all of which were supposed to be secured by parcels of land Seibt was holding in Nye County. The value of the land, however, was grossly exaggerated by Seibt, investigators said.
Seibt told investors that they would receive a return of 10 percent to 12 percent on their investments, but that ended up being a lie, the complaint charged. Instead of buying the land with the investment money, Seibt used the cash for his own personal expenses and to pay off other investors.
He is accused of using a 17-acre luxury RV park he had developed in Pahrump to lure investors into other projects.
Contact reporter Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.