Published November 30. 2010 4:00AM Updated November 30. 2010 10:48AM
The former owners of the Lighthouse Inn have been charged with defrauding at least 12 investors of more than $1.7 million with a bogus Mississippi resort project.
Christopher Plummer, 49, of Lyme, and Maureen Clark, 56, of Stonington, are accused of using the funds to write checks for cash, pay expenses for the Lighthouse Inn and make mortgage payments on a waterfront property in Stonington.
A federal grand jury returned the 32-count indictment Nov. 23, charging Plummer and Clark with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
The indictment was unsealed Monday when Clark was presented in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. Judge William I. Garfinkel ordered her held pending a bond hearing that has not yet been scheduled. Plummer was arrested Monday afternoon and is scheduled to appear before Garfinkel at 3 p.m. today.
According to the indictment, Plummer, Clark and others who have not been identified engaged in an investment scheme from March 2006 to this month, soliciting people to invest in a Lakeshore, Miss., development they said would include a casino, residential properties and a medical facility.
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, according to the indictment. They sent e-mails 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 five points per year.
Plummer and Clark also falsely represented that the partners of the company had invested several hundred million dollars of their own funds in buying land and options on land in and around the town of Lakeshore.
Legal and financial problems for the partners in the now-foreclosed Lighthouse Inn have deepened over the past two years. State charges were brought against them in 2008 after employees of the elegant inn, located in a historic mansion near the New London waterfront, claimed they had not been paid their wages. Service providers also complained they had not been paid, and the business closed for good last year.
Also in 2009, Clark and Plummer were accused of defrauding an Indianapolis couple of $100,000 in an investment deal. Clark was charged with 39 counts of tax evasion in October 2009 for allegedly failing to file sales and use taxes between July 2006 and November 2008.
Plummer filed for involuntary bankruptcy, causing a New Haven businessman who had purchased the inn at auction to back out. A Superior Court judge has since returned the property to the mortgage holder.
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney David B. Fein and Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie G. Turbert filed a civil lawsuit aimed at preventing Plummer from selling more than four acres of waterfront land he owns in Stonington, saying the property, valued at $800,000, is tied to the fraudulent investment scheme.
The government is seeking forfeiture of the 4.35-acre parcel and a financial judgment equal to the total value of any real or personal property that constitutes proceeds involved in the offense.
Fein stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.
The case is being prosecuted by the President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which includes representatives from federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement. The task force's mission is to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
For more information on the task force, visit: www.StopFraud.gov.