SAN FRANCISCO – Kevin Kyes was sentenced today to five years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering convictions arising from a $7 million Ponzi scheme, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. District Judge.
After a week-long trial before Judge Illston, a jury convicted Kyes, 70, formerly of Campbell, Calif. and currently of Roseville, Calif., of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seventeen counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering. The evidence at trial established that Kyes conspired to commit wire fraud and committed wire fraud as part of a nearly $7 million Ponzi scheme in which the victims were a group of more than 60 Japanese investors. The jury found that Kyes conspired to and did launder the proceeds of this fraud.
From December 2012 through July 2015, Kyes worked with John Holdaway, 74 of Sandy, Utah, to defraud the Japanese investors through a business that they referred to as “Money Management Strategies,” or MMS. Kyes and Holdaway told the investors their money would be invested in high-speed trading programs with historical returns of well over 100% annually. Kyes and Holdaway also told investors that their investments would be safe, in part because their principal investment would never leave the bank accounts into which the funds were sent, and that instead, MMS would draw a credit line secured by their funds and use that to fund trading. Kyes and Holdaway further explained that any trading losses would be borne by MMS. Based on the representations of Holdaway and Kyes, these investors wired money to bank accounts in Northern California controlled by Holdaway and Kyes. The Japanese investors sent approximately $6.8 million to Holdaway and Kyes during the scheme.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that, in reality, Holdaway and Kyes did not invest the money as promised. Instead, they spent the money themselves, used it to fund Ponzi-type payments back to investors, spent the money to pay back prior creditors to whom they owed funds, and spent it on gold-related businesses. In addition, Holdaway and Kyes told investors that they were receiving distributions or returns on their investment. To back up their claims, Holdaway and Kyes created and sent to investors fake documents, including phony account statements and forged letters from an accountant. Holdaway, with Kyes’s knowledge and participation, also sent emails to investors under fake names, to give the appearance that multiple people worked for Holdaway and Kyes, and lied about traveling to Europe or elsewhere to work on their investments.
A federal grand jury indicted Kyes and Holdaway on June 14, 2016, charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; eighteen counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; one count of conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h); and five counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Illston also ordered Kyes to serve three years of supervised release and to pay over $3.6 million in restitution. On October 6, 2017, Holdaway pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of filing false tax returns, and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 16, 2018, also before Judge Illston.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Kingsley and Helen Gilbert are prosecuting the case with assistance from Bridget Kilkenny and Patricia Mahoney. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the IRS, Criminal Investigation.