Idaho realtor heads for trial in $82-million Ponzi scheme that tapped Christians
Brad Heinrichs says he’s not guilty to charges of preying upon devout investors
An Idaho real estate agent stands accused of running an $82 million Ponzi scheme that preyed on devout Christian families, promising returns from Arizona property as high as 25 percent.
A trial date will be set April 14 for Bradley R. Heinrichs, 41, after he pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, illegal control of an enterprise, theft and conspiracy, the Idaho Statesman reported. He was indicted a year ago.
Heinrichs, who works at Anthology, a Boise real estate firm, was accused along with business partner Stephen Hatch of creating more than 30 business entities while managing 17 sets of books to buy 13 properties between January 2005 and December 2014, according to the newspaper. Prosecutors said they ran a racketeering enterprise involving the sale of real estate and promised double-digit returns to more than 110 investors.
Hatch, 72, pleaded guilty in 2017 to one felony count of fraud and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution and was released in September. Prosecutors agreed not to charge his children, who were paid lavish salaries and were said to also be involved in the scam.
The indictment accused Heinrich of over-leveraging properties without telling investors, using investor funds to pay off other investor loans, transferring investor money without authorization, misleading investors about the value of their investments, and using religious affinity to secure loans and distract or dispel investor concern.
Heinriches faces as many as 69 years behind bars. His attorney, Phoenix lawyer Anne Chapman, said he denies wrongdoing.
“Out of respect for the legal process, we are not going to comment on the allegations against Mr. Heinrichs, except to say that he denies them,” Chapman said in an email to the Idaho Statesman.
Heinrichs is listed as a “real estate professional” at Anthology, which beckons customers with the slogan, “Every person has a story, each story has a place – let’s write your story together.” A voicemail left at the firm on Friday went unanswered.
Some of his victims created a Hatch/Heinrichs Victims Recovery Fund to recoup their losses and hold the alleged scammers accountable.
The group said Heinrichs lied to investors, saying Hatch was worth between $15 million and $20 million and didn’t need money. They said Heinrich told them his partner had been in the real estate business for many years and came out of retirement to help other people, mainly his children, learn the ropes.
In a court filing, the group alleged Heinrichs told investors “that his company wanted to give an opportunity to ‘Christian families’ to invest, how God was using their company to support missions and that they wanted to pass the blessing along to the ‘little guy’ who normally wouldn’t have an opportunity like this.”
A dermatologist in Boise, Dr. Richard Blickenstaff, initially invested $227,800 with Heinrichs, according to a letter to a judge from the Arizona attorney general’s office. He ponied up $100,000 more in June 2014.
“Through this relationship, Heinrichs solicited investments,” the AG letter said. “He told Blickenstaff that Hatch was a Christian, a man of impeccable character, had a long history of successful real estate ventures and had delivered promised returns to investors in all of his previous projects.”
Five months after Blickenstaff provided Heinrichs with the $100,000, the letter said Heinrichs told Blickenstaff that Hatch had misappropriated money from the investments.
When Blickenstaff asked him how he could have taken the money knowing there were red flags with regard to fraud, he said, “That is something I am struggling with,” according to the letter.
[Idaho Statesman] – Dana Bartholomew