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Continued: Jury finds Walker guilty in Bixby Energy investor fraud

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 5, 2014 - 11:17 PM

Walker has been behind bars since August, when he violated his probation by contacting a government witness through an intermediary. That was the basis for the witness tampering charge. Walker’s sentencing date hasn’t been set.

During a pre-sentencing review, the victims of the Bixby scam and their losses will be tallied. Prosecutors are required to seek a restitution order, and a special civil unit in the U.S. attorney’s office typically looks for assets to recover. But after a criminal investigation lasting six years and involving U.S. postal inspectors, the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI, the trial revealed no evidence that anything is left of investors’ money.

Instead, prosecutors presented evidence that Walker enriched himself and others, and that Bixby never made a dime of profit. Walker once lived in a 12,000-square-foot home with an indoor pool in Ramsey. He also put his daughter, Melanie Bonine, on the payroll. She pleaded guilty last year to evading federal tax on Bixby securities she sold at a $700,000 profit. She also awaits sentencing.

After the verdict, prosecutors declined to comment on whether the Bixby investigation is over. In court papers, prosecutors previously have identified uncharged co-conspirators.

“We deeply appreciate the work of this jury,” MacLaughlin said.

 

David Shaffer • 612-673-7090 • @ShafferStrib

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  • Other Bixby Offenders

    Dennis L. Desender: 66, formerly of Minneapolis, who served as Bixby Energy Systems’ chief financial officer and top fundraiser, is serving an 8-year prison term for securities fraud and tax evasion. In return for testifying against Walker, he hopes to reduce that sentence. He pocketed $3.5 million of the $57 million raised from Bixby investors.

    Gary A. Collyard: 64, formerly of Delano, is serving a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to commit securities and bank fraud. In a 2012 plea bargain, he admitted helping Desender and others as a “finder” of Bixby investors. He separately admitted defrauding banks of $1.3 million through his real estate company. In a pending appeal, he is trying to withdraw the plea.

    Melanie Bonine: 45, of Zimmerman, who is Walker’s daughter and a former Bixby executive, pleaded guilty to not paying federal income taxes on more than $700,000 in profits from the sale of Bixby stock warrants. She was not charged in the fraud scheme.

    Bixby Energy Systems Inc.: The company was charged in 2011 with securities fraud and agreed to cooperate with the government under a deferred prosecution agreement. This happened after former CEO Bob Walker was ousted by outside directors. The company failed a year later.

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