Ex-Mashantucket official found guilty of fraud
By Karen Florin
Published 11/20/2009 12:00 AMUpdated 11/20/2009 01:43 AM0
A Hartford jury delivered guilty verdicts Thursday in the wire fraud case of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal member Christopher M. Pearson.
The jury listened to two weeks of testimony in U.S. District Court before finding Pearson guilty of eight counts of wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 when Judge Robert N. Chatigny sentences him Feb. 5.
The jury determined that the 50-year-old former deputy chief operating officer for the tribe defrauded a number of investors out of $280,000 that he obtained from them based upon his representations that he would purchase land on the Island of Roatan, Honduras, on their behalf.
According to court testimony, Pearson told the investors the land ultimately would be used for a resort and casino project that the tribe was sponsoring.
During the trial, prosecutors Eric J. Glover and David T. Huang said Pearson had used the money for boats, cars, vacations and improvements to his waterfront home on Roatan.
Pearson, represented by attorneys Jeremiah Donovan and Conrad Seifert, testified that the investor funds were seed money to cover operating expenses for the development. Pearson, who said he is still working on the project, described his dream development at length on the witness stand.
Pearson was the defendant in a civil trial earlier this year in Mashantucket Pequot tribal court that involved the same project but different investors. There has been no decision in that case.