David Blaine Welliver, a controversial former adviser to the Minneapolis police and fire pension fund, was indicted Wednesday on 14 federal fraud and money laundering charges that accuse him of pocketing investor proceeds in a mutual fund he ran from his Buffalo, Minn., home.
The charges stem from an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused Welliver in court filings of misrepresenting an investment, violating the mutual fund’s lending restrictions and spending $500,000 on personal items that included a new car, vacations, liquor, meals, home improvements, jewelry, his son’s college tuition and back taxes.
Neither Welliver, 55, nor his attorney, Jon Hopeman, responded Thursday to a request for comment.
Welliver struggled to re-establish himself as an investor adviser after the Minneapolis Police Relief Association and the Minneapolis Firefighters’ Relief Association won a $14.6 million judgment against him in 2000 on allegations that he mismanaged fund assets. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to his failure to file IRS employee benefit plan forms.
And in 2004, he consented to a $19,161 judgment to settle a U.S. Department of Labor complaint alleging he transferred funds from his company’s retirement savings plan to his personal bank account.
The next year, he founded Dblaine Capital, an advisory company. He also set up a mutual fund called Dblaine Fund. It initially drew less than $500,000 in investments from Dblaine Capital’s clients, the indictment says. In March 2010, Welliver agreed to pay $100,000 to another investment adviser to buy the assets of two other mutual funds.
But at the time, the indictment says, Welliver’s advisory company had less than $200 in liquid assets and he had less than $2,000 in his bank account. He also owed millions of dollars in civil judgments, federal income taxes and other debts.
To complete the acquisition, the indictment says, Welliver borrowed money from a Burnsville entity called Lazy Deuce Capital Co., which made short-term, high-interest loans.
Welliver ultimately borrowed $4 million from Lazy Deuce, purportedly to acquire other mutual funds and merge them into the Dblaine Fund, the indictment says. But it says he used just $95,000 for that purpose and instead diverted over $500,000 for his personal use, with the remainder going to repayments to Lazy Deuce and his business operating expenses.
The indictment says Welliver also agreed to invest Dblaine Fund cash into Lazy Deuce without disclosing that to the fund’s investors. It says he routed $1.75 million of investor funds through a shell company called Semita Partners, which had been set up by the principals of Lazy Deuce.
By 2011, Dblaine Fund investors lost over $1.2 million, the indictment says. It charges Welliver with five counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering. The indictment seeks to forfeit any property traceable to the charges.