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Montana man gets 20-year sentence for Ponzi scheme

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BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A man convicted of running an investment scam that prosecutors say took in $5.38 million from at least 140 investors in 20 states was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison.

Gallatin County District Judge Holly Brown sentenced Richard Reynolds, of Belgrade, Montana, to 60 years in prison with 40 suspended. She also ordered him to pay nearly $4.46 million in restitution, but Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said, "It's extremely unlikely that any of his victims are going to receive a dime from him."

Reynolds, 53, was given credit for nearly two years he spent in jail or on house arrest, meaning he will be eligible for a parole hearing in about three years, Lambert said.

Reynolds was convicted in December of six felonies, including two counts of fraudulent practices, theft and running a Ponzi scheme. His defense attorney argued that state investigators froze Reynolds' assets before the investors' money could reach its full potential.

Prosecutors said Reynolds and his wife diverted more than $4.3 million for their own use.

"This defendant did nothing but line his pockets with investors' money," Lambert said at the sentencing hearing that started Wednesday. He asked that Reynolds be sentenced to 60 years in prison with 10 suspended.

Reynolds, who represented himself at sentencing, said he took what he needed to live, and that Lambert and state investigators didn't understand how he ran his business.

"I did not in any way whatsoever sit down and say, 'Let me steal money from these people,'" Reynolds said in court Wednesday in asking for a deferred sentence.

On Thursday, Brown said prison time was warranted because Reynolds' actions were "outrageous, aggravated and intolerable." She said that after he serves his prison time, he will not be able to open a checking account, have credit cards, be in casinos or start a business without permission from his parole officer.

As he left in handcuffs, Reynolds said, "I will fry this court." Once in the hallway, he was heard telling Lambert, "You will pay."

Prosecutors said that between 2008 and 2011, Reynolds used relationships he formed with pastors and ministers to bring investors into his scheme. Reynolds, who also used the last name Adkins, was indicted in February 2012 and fled the state. He was arrested five months later in a hotel in Overland Park, Kansas.

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