For Release: April 2, 2003
CFTC SETTLES FRAUD ACTIONS AGAINST THREE DEFENDANTS INVOLVED WITH INDIANA COMMODITY POOL
Court Orders Defendants David G. Johnson, Thomas T. Miller and Geoffrey M. Eltzroth to Pay More Than $11 million for Their Violations Arising from a Ponzi Scheme
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, issued consent orders imposing restitution, civil monetary penalties, and other sanctions against defendants David G. Johnson of Sweester, Indiana, and Thomas T. Miller and Geoffrey M. Eltzroth, both of Marion, Indiana.
The consent orders, entered by the Honorable William C. Lee, settle charges against Johnson, Miller, and Eltzroth arising out of the CFTC’s complaint in CFTC v. Phillip L. Ferguson, individually and doing business as Ferguson Financial, B&F Trading and First Investors Group, Inc., et al., 1:00 CV 0300 (see CFTC News Release 4420-00, July 13, 2000). The CFTC’s complaint, originally filed on July 11, 2000, was amended on February 22, 2002 to add Johnson, Miller, Eltzroth, James N. Wilson of Anderson, Indiana, and JNW Management, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, as defendants based on their alleged respective roles in furthering the Ponzi scheme operated by Phillip L. Ferguson. On June 4, 2002, the court entered a default judgment against Ferguson and ordered him to pay $12.8 million in restitution to defrauded investors and a $10.8 million civil penalty
Ferguson, age 52, fled in June 2000 and his whereabouts remain unknown. The crimestoppers television show, America’s Most Wanted (AMW) aired a segment on January 25, 2003, discussing Ferguson and his role in this fraud. The AMW website located at www.americasmostwanted.com, features a “wanted” poster of him from the January 25th show and provides further details of his background.
The court had previously found that between 1997 and July 2000, Ferguson operated a multi-million dollar commodity pool fraud from a Marion, Indiana brokerage office. During that period, Johnson, Miller, and Eltzroth worked with Ferguson at his office. The CFTC’s complaint alleged that the defendants solicited a total of 297 investors who invested over $9 million in the commodity pool, and distributed to investors false account statements, false disclosure documents and “trade logs” that reported false gains and fictitious trades. Based on those allegations, the complaint charged defendants with engaging in transactions that operated as a fraud upon participants of the commodity pool. In addition, the complaint charged that Eltzroth illegally acted in a capacity requiring registration with the CFTC, without being so registered.
The court ordered:
Johnson to pay up to $1,200,000 in restitution to fraud victims, repay up to $150,000 that Johnson personally gained from the conduct alleged in the complaint, and pay a contingent civil monetary penalty of up to $150,000, all pursuant to a ten year payment plan;
Miller to pay up to $8,000,000 in restitution, repay up to $780,000 in personal gain from the conduct alleged in the complaint, and pay a contingent civil monetary penalty of up to $780,000, all pursuant to a ten year payment plan; and
Eltzroth to pay $75,000 in restitution and a civil monetary penalty of $25,000.
In addition, the court enjoined and permanently prohibited the defendants from engaging in transactions that operate as a fraud upon commodity pool participants or prospective participants and enjoined and permanently prohibited Eltzroth from acting as an associated person of a commodity pool operator without being properly registered with the CFTC.
Johnson, Miller, and Eltzroth neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the complaint or the findings in the consent orders. The complaint remains pending against defendants Wilson and JNW Management.
The following Division of Enforcement staff are responsible for the case: David Terrell, Hugh J. Rooney, Elizabeth M. Streit, and Rosemary Hollinger.
Media Enforcement Case Contact:
Associate Director/Chicago Regional Counsel
CFTC Division of Enforcement (312) 596-0520
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