Maine Securities Administrator reports Lincoln County fraud sentencing
GARDINER – Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw announced that Robert H. Edmunds III, formerly of Nobleboro, has been sentenced in Lincoln County Superior Court to 18 months in prison for one count each of securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities, and unlicensed sale of securities. Mr. Edmunds defrauded investors out of more than $1 million promising high rates of return for their investment with little risk – “common characteristics of a classic Ponzi scheme,” according to a news release from the Maine Office of Securities.
Senior Investigator Jacqueline Drouin investigated the case, and Assistant Attorney Generals Leanne Robbin and Denis Culley of the Maine Attorney General’s Office, prosecuted Edmunds.
According to the release, Edmunds disappeared in 2004 after learning of the Office of Securities’ investigation, which has been pursued by Drouin ever since. During much of his time in hiding, Edmunds was residing in Belize but Drouin ultimately traced him to Virginia Beach where he was arrested in September 2016.
An indictment returned in Lincoln County in 2007 named 20 victims and charged Edmunds with conduct between 2000 and 2004. Most of the investors who were victimized were in their 70s and 80s and lost critical savings needed during their retirement years, the release said. Several have since passed away.
The schemes offered by Edmunds included the sale of real estate investment contracts issued by Branson City Limits, Inc., and Sunshine Real Estate Development, Inc., Additionally, he sold investments through Douglas Network Enterprises for ATM machines and “toppers,” where businesses would sell advertising space.
Edmunds knew the investments were either not legitimate or very risky, with the potential for investors to lose all of their money, the release said. He also failed to disclose that the securities were not legal to sell in Maine, and that he did not have a license to sell securities.
Edmunds had been subject to prior disciplinary action for the sale of unregistered securities and offering investments without a license, as well as charging commissions of more than 10 percent, which is much more than usually paid for investment products.
“This case demonstrates the importance of carefully evaluating the legitimacy and suitability of all investment offerings,” Administrator Shaw said, in the release. “It should also send a message to those who would commit securities fraud that we take these matters very seriously and will do our best to pursue cases as long as necessary. Jackie Drouin deserves much credit for her investigative skills and determination to bring about justice.”
Shaw urged anyone who has questions about the authenticity or legality of an investment opportunity, or about the individual making the offer, to contact the Office of Securities. Information about advisers, salespersons and investing is available at www.investors.maine.gov, by calling 1-877-624-8551 or writing to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.