Testimony tags all 3 on trial in Trevor Cook scheme

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING
  • Star Tribune
  • May 17, 2012 - 9:25 AM

Federal prosecutors in Minneapolis released a swarm of evidence Tuesday in the ongoing trial of three men accused of helping Trevor Cook run an international investment fraud conspiracy from the Twin Cities.

The trial, in its 14th day, is heading into a three-day break. Prosecutors say they hope to wrap up their case early next week. Defense attorneys estimate they'll need about five days for their side.

Jason "Bo" Beckman, a 42-year-old investment adviser who had claimed to be among the best money managers in the nation, got stung first Tuesday as prosecutors played a video deposition of Charlotte Olson, 91, of Spring Lake Park.

Olson suffered a stroke in the late 1990s and is in poor health, so she testified Feb. 16 at her retirement home. Olson appeared lucid but weary in her wheelchair. She said she had trusted Beckman enough to sign all kinds of blank forms he presented her.

"Many times they were not filled in, so I did not know what he was asking me to sign," she said. "I accepted him as honest and truthful. I expected the same thing from him as I gave him."

Olson said Beckman was friendly but brash when she hired him in 2003.

Olson said he told her that he was a single father raising three children, and that he was raised by his grandmother.

Beckman's parents say they raised him, though they were divorced in 1978. He divorced his first wife in 2000 and was hit with an $83,617 judgment in 2004 for failing to pay child and spousal support over several years.

Olson denied Beckman's claim that she invested in his company, the Oxford Private Client Group. She said Beckman never told her that he had invested more than $4.5 million of her money in the bogus currency program that Cook and his associates promoted. She said she never received monthly statements showing such an investment.

The currency program turned out to be the second-largest Ponzi scheme in Minnesota history, bilking more than 700 investors of $194 million. Cook, 39, admitted that he ran the scheme and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

IRS agent Roman Hernandez testified that none of nearly two dozen entities associated with the fraud scheme filed any tax returns from 2005 through 2010.

Defendant Patrick Kiley, 73, who promoted the investment scheme on the radio, filed no returns from 1995 to 2010, Hernandez said.

Defendant Gerald Durand, 61, got stung more than once Tuesday.

Grant Ipsen, a retired state senator from Meridian, Idaho, said he was referred to Durand by a coin dealer. Ipsen said he asked Durand if the currency program was safe and whether he should withdraw his money. Durand did not recommend it, Ipsen said. He said he lost about $685,000 when the scheme collapsed.

Ryan Litfin, 30, of Excelsior, testified that he agreed to convert tens of thousands of dollars' worth of Swiss francs for Durand in 2010, which allowed him to avoid federal reporting requirements on large currency transactions.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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