SALT LAKE CITY Feb. 26, 2016 – Less than a year after his arrest for charges related to a Ponzi scheme, Roger S. Bliss of Bountiful, Utah was sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison by Third District Court Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills. The Office of the Attorney General’s Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit led a team investigating Bliss that included the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also conducted a parallel civil investigation. Attorney General Sean Reyes praised the attorneys that prosecuted the case, as well as the collaboration with federal agencies.
“The prosecution of white-collar crimes and protection of Utah consumers is among the highest priorities for our office. I made that commitment to Utahns and I will continue keeping that promise with every white collar criminal we convict,” said Attorney General Reyes. “The devastation wrought upon the lives of victims breaks my heart and reinforces our commitment to aggressively pursue fraudsters and scammers continuously. The perpetrator in this case will be listed on our fraud registry.
“Our attorneys, investigators, paralegals and staff work tirelessly to protect Utah consumers and put an end to Ponzi schemes like this one. This case also demonstrates the excellent interagency collaboration with our partners, the FBI and the SEC. This is truly a tremendous outcome for citizens in Utah; not only for the victims in this case but to deter future frauds and scams by sending a clear message that Utah is not a place to cheat your friends and neighbors.”
“We congratulate the Utah Attorney’s General’s Office on the conviction and sentencing, and we look forward to proceeding with our civil action,” Richard Best, Regional Director of the Salt Lake Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Upon sentencing, Bliss was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence. He had previously pleaded guilty on December 11, 2015, to four counts of Securities Fraud and one count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity, all of which are Second Degree felonies.
Bliss was also convicted for the crimes of Obstruction of Justice and False Declaration Before a Court of the United States, committed in connection with the civil case filed by the SEC. That case was filed and prosecuted in Utah Federal District Court by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. Judge Nuffer sentenced Bliss to 12 months in federal prison, with the sentence to run consecutive to the prison time he received from the State of Utah. The civil case filed by the SEC is still ongoing.
The investigation by the Office of the Utah Attorney General and the FBI into Bliss’ Ponzi scheme began in January of 2015 and culminated when he was charged in Third District Court in July 2015 after it was discovered that Bliss solicited funds from potential investors, claiming he would generate returns of over 100% annually by trading Apple stock. Bliss told potential investors that he had never had a losing day trading stock, promising to split earnings with investors 50/50, and between 2013 and 2015 over one hundred people invested funds with him. The investigation revealed that Bliss lost over $3 million trading during this time, spending approximately $4 million of the invested funds on personal expenses for himself and his family. Bliss used new investor funds to pay purported returns to earlier investors. Total losses for the scheme exceeded $20 million.
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