LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A federal grand jury Tuesday returned a five-count indictment that accuses a Beverly Hills man -- who was completing a sentence in a prior fraud case -- of soliciting more than $9 million from victims with false claims they were investing in a hemp farm that did not exist.
Mark Roy Anderson, 68, who was living in Beverly Hills while on supervised release after serving a 135-month federal prison sentence, faces five counts of wire fraud in the case. He allegedly tricked investors into providing funding for his company, called Harvest Farm Group, to harvest and process hemp, grown on his farm, into medical grade CBD isolate to be sold for a substantial profit, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Special agents with the FBI arrested Anderson in the current case on May 9 after prosecutors filed a criminal complaint in Los Angeles federal court alleging a scheme to induce victims to send money to the defendant from at least June 2020 to April 2021, officials said.
Anderson allegedly attempted to maintain an appearance of trustworthiness by taking steps to assure potential investors that Harvest Farms Group was legitimate and he "was not the `Mark Roy Anderson' with multiple prior fraud convictions," court papers state.
The indictment alleges Anderson "concealed that he had been convicted of multiple federal and state felony crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, grand theft, forgery, preparing false evidence, and money laundering, and concealed that he was still serving a criminal sentence and still on supervised release at the time he was soliciting investments."
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that Anderson used investor money for personal expenses, including more than $650,000 worth of luxury and vintage vehicles, over $400,000 in cash withdrawals, more than $142,000 in retail purchases, and other personal expenses, including more than $1.3 million spent to purchase a residence and surrounding citrus groves in Ojai.
Anderson, who has been ordered held without bond in the case, is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment in downtown Los Angeles on May 30.
Each count of wire fraud alleged in the indictment carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.