June 4, 2013
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it obtained federal court orders for more than $2.7 million in disgorgement and civil monetary penalties against Bentley Equities, LLC (Bentley), a Delaware corporation, and its principals, Christopher D. Hales (Hales) and Eric A. Richardson (Richardson), resolving the CFTC’s May 2, 2012 Complaint charging them with fraud. (See CFTC Press Release: 6250-12, May 3, 2012.) Hales is currently an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Safford, Arizona, and Richardson is currently an inmate at the Florence Federal Correction Complex in Florence, Colorado.
On May 31, 2013, the Honorable Dee Benson of the United States District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, entered a Consent Order for Permanent Injunction against Richardson requiring him to pay $100,000 in disgorgement and a $150,000 civil monetary penalty. That Order also permanently bans Richardson from engaging in any commodity-related activity, including trading and registering with the CFTC, and prohibits him from violating the anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged. On May 14, 2013, Judge Benson also entered an Order for Default Judgment and Permanent Injunction against Hales and Bentley that requires Hales to pay $382,080 in disgorgement and $1,146,240 in civil monetary penalties and Bentley to pay an $840,000 civil monetary penalty. That Order also permanently bans Hales and Bentley from engaging in any commodity-related activity, including trading and registering with the CFTC, and prohibits them from violating the anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act, as charged.
The CFTC’s 2012 enforcement action against Hales, Richardson and Bentley charged them with fraudulently soliciting and accepting more than $1.1 million from approximately 39 customers for the purpose of trading commodity futures. It also alleged that they misappropriated approximately $658,452 of customer funds for personal expenses including auto expenses, utility bills and credit card payments and to make payments to existing customers in the manner of a Ponzi scheme. The Complaint further alleged that Hales, Richardson and Bentley misrepresented to customers that their trading was profitable, when in reality, they lost more than $482,000 trading commodity futures and that Hales and Bentley issued false statements to certain customers.
In related criminal prosecutions, Hales was sentenced to more than seven years imprisonment and ordered to pay $12,719,236 in criminal restitution in connection with a judgment entered against him in United States v. Christopher D. Hales, No. 2:10-CR-183-TS-SA-1 (C. D. UT, Sept. 2, 2010) and Richardson was sentenced to a year and a day imprisonment and ordered to pay $110,000 in criminal restitution in connection with a judgment entered against him in United States v. Eric A. Richardson, No. 2:12-CR-00354 (C.D. UT, June 27, 2012).
The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff is responsible for this case: Brigitte Weyls, Joseph Patrick, Susan Gradman, Scott Williamson, Rosemary Hollinger and Richard Wagner.
Last Updated: June 4, 2013