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Office of the Attorney General Announces Guilty Plea from Dwight Shane Baldwin

SALT LAKE CITY April 8, 2016 – The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced today that Dwight Shane Baldwin, more commonly known as Shane Baldwin, pleaded guilty last week in Third District Court in Salt Lake City to four counts of Securities Fraud, one count of Theft, and one count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity, all 2nd Degree Felonies. Baldwin also pleaded guilty to one count of Communications Fraud, a 2nd Degree Felony, in a separate companion case. Baldwin was prosecuted by the Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit of the OAG after an investigation by the Utah Division of Securities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“Too many lives are turned upside down by rampant investment fraud in Utah. Mr. Baldwin’s case is no different. Over a number of years, Mr. Baldwin has victimized scores of investors and destroyed the lives of many Utahns who believed and trusted him with their hard earned savings. It remains one of my highest priorities to prosecute white-collar offenders like Mr. Baldwin,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

“We commend the hard work and thorough investigation by our partners the Utah Division of Securities and the FBI, who put together a compelling case. We are honored that they would trust us to prosecute such a complex and difficult white collar scheme and we look forward to continued collaboration.

“Many in the Utah investment community have long voiced concerns regarding Silverleaf and Mr. Baldwin. It is time he be held accountable for his actions. I hope he takes responsibility by repaying his victims through restitution, no matter how long it takes.”

“The FBI views the Baldwin case as a successful example of joint cooperation between the FBI and Attorney General’s Office in the investigation of an egregious investment scheme,” said Supervisory Special Agent Michael Pickett. “FBI Salt Lake City Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart has stated that the FBI and its law enforcement partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who intentionally mislead and take advantage of hard-working investors.  We encourage the public to remain vigilant and report suspected fraud to the nearest FBI office.”

“Shane Baldwin left a trail of Utah victims with losses in the millions in the wake of his shocking securities scheme.  We would like to thank the collaborative efforts of the FBI and Utah Attorney General’s Office for bringing this complex case to justice,” said Keith Woodwell, Director of the Division of Securities.

As admitted in his plea, between 2010 and 2013 Baldwin engaged in a pattern of fraudulent conduct in connection with his company Silverleaf Financial. Baldwin solicited investors to provide funds for Silverleaf’s purported real estate based ventures.  Typically, Baldwin promised investors large returns within short periods of time with little to no risk. In connection with the offer and sale of these investments, Baldwin made numerous material misrepresentations and omissions including the risks associated with the investment, how the investment funds would be spent, and Baldwin’s ability to close the promised real estate transactions.

The State of Utah alleges that as a result of Baldwin’s admitted fraud investors lost tens of millions of dollars. Investors’ losses and required restitution will be determined at a hearing following a scheduled May 26, 2016 sentencing.

Cases like this underscore the need for Utah’s White Collar Crime Offender Registry (WCCOR). With the support of Governor Gary Herbert, Sen. Curt Bramble and Rep. Mike McKell, Utah became the first state to require second degree white collar felons be listed in a searchable database. This protects future investors, deters fraudsters and incentivizes restitution by allowing removal from the WCCOR after full repayment.

Attorney General Sean Reyes Announces Bliss Sentencing After Joint Investigation with FBI

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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