Convicted in Ponzi scheme, Beckman offers $19 million for leniency

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 12, 2012 - 5:30 AM

Jason "Bo" Beckman, convicted of fraud, wants to avoid a life sentence.

Jason “Bo” Beckman
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Jason “Bo” Beckman

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Most defendants facing a federal judge for sentencing apologize for their crimes, maybe dispute a thing or two in their background report, then ask for mercy.

Not Jason "Bo" Beckman. The brash 42-year-old former money manager is offering a $19 million check to avoid what could be life in prison when he stands before Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis for sentencing on Jan. 3.

Beckman, a self-described investment star, was convicted in June on 15 fraud and money-laundering charges related to a $194 million Ponzi scheme that was run by a business associate, convicted fraudster Trevor Cook. The bogus currency-investment scheme bilked more than 700 investors nationwide, mostly retirees.

But that's not all. Beckman, a former Anoka High School hockey standout, also was convicted of two counts related to his attempt to defraud the National Hockey League in a failed bid to buy a $5 million piece of the Minnesota Wild; of defrauding an elderly Spring Lake Park couple out of nearly $4 million in life insurance proceeds; and three tax charges.

Beckman's attorney, Douglas Altman filed a 68-page sentencing memorandum on Tuesday disputing the government's calculations for Beckman's share of the financial blame.

The memo contains the usual appeals for sympathy. Altman says Beckman's wife, Hollie, is sick and needs him at home. He says Beckman gave generously to charities. And he says Beckman has been counseling defendants in the "immigration unit" of the Sherburne County jail.

He then relays a most unusual proposal from his client.

In exchange for a 364-day cap on his incarceration, followed by three years of probation requiring 2,000 hours of community service speaking to financial firms and investors, Altman said, "Mr. Beckman would arrange for the immediate delivery of a check for $19,000,000 for payment to victims."

Where is the money?

Altman could not be reached for comment. His filing doesn't say where Beckman would get the money. But the court-appointed receiver hasn't found any sums like that, and Beckman and his wife had to borrow $5,151 from the receivership for living expenses after their assets were frozen.

Beckman's proposal includes a commitment to "work out his tax issues with the IRS," and accepts a lifetime ban from the financial services industry.

"The Government rejected this proposal," Altman noted.

That's an understatement.

"The nature and circumstances of this offense and Mr. Beckman's history and characteristics, viewed together, cry out for a life sentence," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Perzel and David MacLaughlin. "But perhaps most importantly, Mr. Beckman must be locked up for the rest of his life because he is a very dangerous individual who is certain to hurt people if he is ever released."

In a 141-page filing Tuesday afternoon, the prosecutors describe Beckman as an incorrigible liar and fraudster with no semblance of conscience. His entire life is "rooted in deceit," ranging from his ejection from the U.S. Air Force Academy for dishonesty, to forging his mother's signature on student loan applications, looting his maternal grandfather's estate, and perjuring himself in a divorce proceeding in an effort to avoid paying child support, they said.

'Breathtaking' conduct

"Mr. Beckman is the worst and most culpable of all of the criminals who participated in the currency program Ponzi scheme, including Trevor Cook," the prosecutors wrote. "Mr. Beckman's criminal conduct, breathtaking in both its depth and breadth, propelled the currency program forward, ploughing a furrow through which Mr. Beckman committed additional, egregious fraud offenses committed by none of the other defendants."

Brian Toder, an attorney for co-defendant Gerald Durand, said defendants in state cases have bought their way into diversion programs, but had limits on their offer amounts, out of concern for poorer defendants. "I've never seen anyone try this in federal court," he said.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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