Two Men Sentenced in Investment Fraud Scheme

Mark Sutton and Joseph Finney each received prison sentences for enticing investors to buy shares in an investment dubbed "Envestclub," which they said offered high returns. But they didn't disclose that they were taking portions of investors' funds as commission.

Two men were sentenced on Thursday for crimes related to a high-yield investment scheme, according to Minnesota's U.S. Attorney's office.

Mark Sutton, a 63-year-old man from Minnetonka, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Sutton was indicted, along with Joseph Finney, in November 2009, and was convicted by a jury last October. Finney, a 65-year-old man from Colorado Springs, Colorado, pleaded guilty in September 2010 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced to five years and four months in prison.

Prosecutors said that from 2000 to 2005, Sutton, Finney, and others sold shares in an investment dubbed “Envestclub.” The men enticed investors by claiming that they would receive far greater returns than they would through typical investment opportunities-but Sutton and Finney didn't disclose important information to the potential investors. For example, they didn't tell investors that they would pocket some of the investors' funds as “sales commissions.” They didn't reveal that Finney was convicted of fraud in 2003, either.

Sutton also was convicted of conspiring to help a man from Plymouth evade payment of his federal income taxes by creating a trust and by referring the man to “individuals who specialized in tax-avoidance schemes,” Minnesota's U.S. Attorney's office said.