SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge's dismissal this week of a case against a Utah businessman charged with running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme triggered an angry response from the state official who investigated him.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed the case because he said federal prosecutors violated real estate investor Rick Koerber's right to a speedy trial in the 5-year-old case. On Thursday, he dismissed the 18 counts of fraud and money laundering with prejudice, so they can't be refiled, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1rffcJV ).
Francine Giani, the executive director of the state Department of Commerce, vowed to never again refer cases to federal prosecutors.
"After all these years of waiting, I am appalled that a federal prosecutor with such a strong reputation can get outmaneuvered by committing malfeasance and being unable to count to 70," Giani said, referring to the failure to seek exemptions to the Speedy Trial Act.
Acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen said she is also disappointed in the dismissal but defended her office's handling of the case.
"We strongly disagree with her comments concerning the competence and integrity of the prosecutors in this case and regret that she was not better informed about the case before making her public comments," Christensen said in a statement.
Giani requested the help of federal prosecutors six years ago after then-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff declined to file a lawsuit against Koerber.
Meanwhile, Koerber blasted prosecutors and regulators during a Friday news conference where he wore a cowboy hat and was flanked by his wife, six of his eight children and two friends. He said Giani targeted him because he spoke out against state regulators on his radio show.
Koerber once called himself the "Latter-day capitalist," hosted a radio program and could be seen on billboards.
He pushed back against the allegations that he ran a Ponzi scheme, saying his company books show that wasn't true. He said he's still figuring out what he will do next.
Koerber said he was weighing his options on possibly seeking redress for the charges and was considering future business opportunities.
He still has an appeal pending of a $1.8 million judgment against him, his companies and a partner that stems from a lawsuit by two investors.
"Will I be heard from? Probably," he said. "Will I be back doing what I did before? I think I'm wiser. Whatever I do, I hope to benefit from experience."
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com