Mpls. coin dealer hit with $295,000 fraud fine

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 30, 2012 - 9:00 PM

Defrauded consumers also win judgments against Minneapolis man with a long history of thefts.

A Minneapolis coin dealer with a long history of thefts has been fined $295,000 by a Hennepin County district judge and must repay nine former customers more than $409,000.

Judge Ivy Bernhardson said Robert Earl Gundy responded too late to a consumer fraud lawsuit filed last year alleging that he and others cheated elderly customers.

The suit by the Minnesota Attorney General's office named Gundy, his defunct coin company, Crescent Equities, and two of its former salesmen, Jamie Lee Smith and Jay Phillip Flynn.

Gundy, 53, filed a response in June blaming Smith, 35, of Burnsville, and Flynn, 48, of Minneapolis. Gundy alleged they were the ones who had made "misrepresentations" to coin buyers. Smith and Flynn, who are cousins, deny that.

"Defendant Gundy has failed to provide any defense on the merits in this case," Bernhardson wrote in an order dated July 23. "He has been a party to nine prior civil actions, so he has an understanding of court rules."

Plaintiffs in past lawsuits have amassed $54,000 in judgments against Gundy. The largest, $41,228, resulted from a lawsuit filed in 2003 by Midas Resources, a precious-metals dealer based in Eagan.

Midas alleged that Gundy and another salesman were working in cahoots with Trevor Cook, 40, of Apple Valley, to cheat Midas customers. Cook went on to defraud more than 700 investors in a $194 million Ponzi scheme.

Smith said he's never cheated anyone and cooperated with the attorney general's office in the case against Gundy. He said in a recent interview that he's worked out a deal with the attorney general's office releasing him and his company, American Independent Gold & Silver, from the lawsuit. He agreed not to associate with anyone who has been convicted of, or admitted to, fraud involving the sale of coins or precious metals. He also agreed to report unresolved consumer complaints to the attorney general.

The attorney general's office did not respond Monday to requests for comment. Gundy could not be reached.

It's doubtful that he'll be able to pay the fine or repay his coin customers anytime soon. He was sentenced in March to 14 months in prison for writing bad checks. Gundy has several felony convictions for thefts and one for check forgery. He has not been charged criminally in connection with the complaints in the attorney general's lawsuit.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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