2 Sentenced for Activist Group Fraud Scheme : Courts: Leader of anti-government organization and an associate get prison terms for scam that duped investors out of $2 million.
Two men involved in the anti-government We the People group, including its leader, have been sentenced to prison for theft and securities fraud.
Members allegedly told people nationwide that the group had won a $600-trillion class-action lawsuit against the federal government for abandoning the gold standard in 1933, and that the riches would be distributed to anybody who paid a $300 filing fee.
We the People, based in Ft. Collins, Colo., collected more than $2 million from duped investors nationwide, prosecutors said.
The leader of the group, Roy Schwasinger, 61, of Ft. Collins, was sentenced Friday in state court to nine years in prison. Gary Widman, 51, of Parker, Colo., was sentenced to four years. They were convicted Oct. 6.
They were among 11 people indicted in the scheme. A third was convicted and is awaiting sentencing; the others pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
“We are very pleased that . . . the court acknowledged the severity of financial damage caused to hundreds of Colorado citizens,” said state Atty. Gen. Gale Norton.
Members of other anti-government groups have been prosecuted on similar schemes in other states.
Schwasinger and Widman are serving time for convictions on other charges, some of them related to the illegal scheme, Norton’s office said.
Schwasinger, accused of launching his scheme in 1992, is serving a 15-year sentence for filing phony liens against public officials in Texas.
Widman is serving a six-year sentence for filing $25 million in phony liens against several Colorado officials, including Norton. He testified that the liens were filed to hold the officials “accountable.”
Neither will begin serving their new sentences until their previous terms are complete, the judge ruled.