Convicted Ponzi schemer sentenced to 20 years in prison


BOZEMAN, Mont. - A Gallatin Valley man convicted of scamming investors out of millions threatened the court and prosecution after he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Richard Reynolds, also known as Richard Adkins, spoke directly to NBC Montana's cameras as deputies escorted him out of the court, saying, "I will fry this court, do you understand?"

In custody, Reynolds soon turned his attention to Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert as he was taken away.

"You sir, you. We just started!" yelled Reynolds.

Reynolds was sentenced to 60 years in Montana State Prison with 40 suspended for securities violations, social security fraud, misrepresentation, theft and swindling investors from 21 states and 6 foreign countries out of nearly $5 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Lynne Egan is Deputy Security Commissioner for the office of the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.

She told us, "Ponzi schemes have been an epidemic in Montana."

Egan says around five schemes similar to Reynolds' have risen to criminal investigation since 2009. In that time about $375 million has been recovered in Montana.

In a Ponzi scheme the con artist uses money from new investors to pay existing investors.

"We believe that there's twice that much money that we have been unable to recoup as the result of Ponzi schemes and other fraudulent schemes," said Egan.

Reynolds was ordered to pay back more than $4 million in restitution.

Egan tells NBC Montana she's satisfied with the sentence handed down Thursday, saying it sends a strong message that Montana takes white collar crime seriously.

Egan said she was, "Overall very pleased with the restitution total and the fact that he will be incarcerated and no longer able to victimize additional investors."

As deputies hauled Reynolds to jail he had some final words to the criminal justice system and Gallatin County prosecutor Marty Lambert.

"Marty Lambert!" he shouted, walking down the halls. An outburst Reynolds made not once but twice, "Marty Lambert! You will feel my pain!"

Reynolds will get credit for the 715 days he has already served and will be eligible for parole in 3 years.

The office of the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance lists several red flags you can spot to protect yourself and your money from becoming involved in a Ponzi scheme.

The first sign is overly consistent returns -- investments that continually generate regular positive returns regardless of ups and downs in the stock market. They also say you should beware of unregistered investments or unlicensed sellers. Most Ponzi schemes involve individuals or firms not on the feds' books.

Be sure to regularly review investment paperwork. If your financial adviser can't get you that information or a scheduled payment, something might be up.

Chief Legal Counsel for the office of the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Institute Jesse Laslovich warned, "Honestly, people always say this, and it's a cliche, but if it sounds too good to be true, it is. And we've found in these instances when people are making promises that they can get a large rate of return on their investment, that is more than what the national market, the stock market is, then it's too good to be true."