It looks as if the upcoming trial of three of men accused of participating in Trevor Cook's $194 million Ponzi scheme will be a Wild affair -- as in, Minnesota Wild.
A federal grand jury handed up a new indictment Wednesday against Minneapolis financial adviser Jason Bo Beckman, 42, Faribault businessman Gerald Durand, 60, and former Minneapolis radio-show host Patrick Kiley, 73.
This is the third indictment in the case. While the 44-page document has few new details, it does provide a glimpse of the prosecution's strategy.
Neither of the previous indictments mentioned the Minnesota Wild hockey team. But the new one mentions the National Hockey League team 10 times and specifically alleges that Beckman, a former high school and college hockey player, used investor funds in an attempt to trick the league into believing that he had the money to buy a piece of the franchise.
The indictment alleges that in 2008, Beckman hired a prominent Minneapolis law firm and certified public accountants to help present his bid to the NHL. It says the law firm told him in July 2008 -- a full year before the Ponzi scheme was exposed -- that the currency investment program Cook offered was "riddled with illegalities," that it should be discontinued, and that investors' assets needed to be recovered.
By that time, investors had entrusted $117 million to Beckman, Durand, Kiley, Cook and another associate, Christopher Pettengill, who pleaded guilty in June to securities fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering charges.
The scheme imploded in July 2009 after some Ohio investors filed a federal lawsuit in Minneapolis seeking to recoup their money. At the end, some 700 people, mostly retirees, had invested $194 million, making it the second-largest Ponzi scheme in state history.
Beckman was a licensed securities broker between 2005 and 2009, when the alleged frauds took place, and is likely to be the central focus of the case. He now faces a total of 22 charges while Durand faces 20 and Kiley faces 15.
All three men are charged with 12 counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and two counts each of money laundering. Cook pleaded guilty to running the Ponzi scheme and is serving a 25-year sentence in federal prison. Beckman, Durand and Kiley have denied breaking any laws.
Their trial is scheduled to begin April 19 in the Minneapolis courtroom of Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis.
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493