Lyme man to serve 51 months for investment fraud

Christopher Plummer of Lyme, described by a government attorney as a thrice-convicted con man who has not held a legitimate job in years, was sentenced Monday to more than four years in federal prison for defrauding investors of approximately $1.9 million in two different schemes.

The 50-year-old Plummer has been held at the Donald W. Wyatt detention facility in Central Falls, R.I., since he was arrested on Nov. 29, 2010. He pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Though he faced a maximum of 20 years, Judge Warren W. Eginton stayed within federal sentencing guidelines and imposed a 51-month prison term, followed by three years of supervised release.

Plummer's former business partner, Maureen Clark of Stonington, took her case to trial in July and was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering. She awaits sentencing.

According to court documents, Plummer and Clark engaged in an investment scheme from 2006 to 2010, soliciting more than a dozen people to invest $1.7 million in a Lakeshore, Miss., development they said would include a casino, residential properties and a medical facility.

Plummer met with investors at the Lighthouse Inn in New London and in Lyme, according to court documents. He and Clark sent emails to the investors claiming that major Wall Street investment firms had agreed to partner in the project and sold their investors "convertible term notes" that purported to pay 15 percent simple interest plus 5 points per year. The documents indicate that Plummer and Clark falsely represented to the investors that they owned hundreds of acres of land and options to purchase land in and around Lakeshore.

Plummer also admitted to representing himself as a managing member of Madison and Wall Investments LLC and telling a victim he could invest his money with a firm that used a computer-based trading system and it would realize a 100 percent return within two years. The victim gave Plummer two $100,000 checks, which he deposited into a bank account in the name of Madison and Wall Investments and used it to write checks.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, the victim of this scheme addressed the court Monday, saying he had trusted Plummer, who was a friend. The man said he had lost his retirement funds, and "there are months that I just can't make ends meet."

According to the government, Clark and Plummer poured the fraudulently obtained money from both schemes into the floundering Lighthouse Inn, which has since been foreclosed, used it to pay Plummer's mortgage and converted portions of it to cash.

In pleading guilty, Plummer agreed to forfeit his interest in a 4.35-acre parcel of waterfront property on Palmer Neck Road in Stonington, a 2007 Nissan Murano and $18,000 seized during a separate investigation of a separate company, Franklin Power & Light, of which Plummer claimed to be the chief executive. The FBI investigated the company and learned it was not legitimate, according to court documents. It is unclear why the agency did not file criminal charges related to what it determined to be a bogus company. A spokesman for the government said he could not comment.

Though the judge ordered Plummer to repay the victims, prosecutors Michael S. McGarry and Richard J. Schecter wrote in a sentencing memorandum that the people who invested their savings and retirement funds will never be made whole.

The prosecutors wrote that Plummer has "a checkered past replete with fraudulent conduct."

"He is a professional con-man not having held a legitimate job in many years," says the memorandum.

A sentencing memorandum submitted by Plummer's attorney, William H. Paetzold, is sealed.

According to the government, Plummer was convicted of grand larceny in 1988 for a scam he ran in Florida, but he didn't serve prison time. He has a judgment against him from the Securities Division of the Office of the Secretary of State for Indiana, where the state said he defrauded two victims, each of $100,000. He did not repay those victims, according to the government.

k.florin@theday.com

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