Scam artist guilty; victims poorer

  • Article by: JAMES ELI SHIFFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 29, 2009 - 6:37 AM

Saying God was on his side, Alabama's newest prisoner duped Minnesotan, others.

In a video message last year, Daniel A. Caterino held up a Bible to try to calm investors from Minnesota to West Africa who collectively put millions into a high-tech medical clinic that never opened.

Now Caterino will have 30 months in an Alabama prison to bone up on Scripture. The California man was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to violating Alabama's securities laws in an unrelated but similar investment scheme involving a medical clinic.

Caterino's prison term, a return engagement for him, came as little surprise to angry investors in an ill-fated company called Advanced Health Scan. Caterino was one of the top executives of the firm, which solicited investors over the Internet to put down at least $15,000 toward a California clinic that would supposedly use powerful imaging technology to prevent heart attacks.

Whistleblower reported on the shaky investment scheme last year after being contacted by Larry Ryder, a New Prague investor who wanted help finding out what happened to the company. In an interview at the time, Caterino said the clinic was on the verge of opening if investors would just leave him alone. He didn't want to talk about the charges in Alabama but insisted he had put his criminal past behind him after becoming a Christian.

Since then, what was left of the company seems to have evaporated. In April, investors sued Advanced Health Scan's general partners in a California state court, said David Pendell, 62, an investor from Petoskey, Mich. The 300 or so investors, featuring bankers, health care professionals and a lawyer, have been prodding federal and state investigators to examine the scheme, Pendell said.

They've also ponied up another $11,000 to figure out the whereabouts of the $8.5 million to $9.5 million they invested in the company. So far, no criminal charges have been filed.

Pendell had mixed emotions about Caterino's prison term. "We feel probably he'll be escorted out of the Alabama jail into a far longer term in California, if there's any justice," Pendell said. There's a "large swath of despair that this man has left behind."

Ryder dutifully filled out forms to help with the Advanced Health Scan investigation. But he's not optimistic that he'll see his $15,000 again. "I don't know how you get money out of a turnip, either," Ryder said.

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