Trophy Outfitting of Colorado BUSTED

2rocky

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Jul 23, 2010
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3,731
I recall getting a postcard every Spring from "Trophy Outfitters" where he pitched this investment "opportunity". Even as a younbgster I knew it had to be a shady deal.....Glad I trusted my gut.
DENVER (CBS4 ) – A Pueblo-based rancher who defrauded more than 100 investors of nearly $5 million will be required to pay back those losses in addition to spending almost two and a half years behind bars.​
Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn sentenced Richard K. Sears to 41 months in federal prison, three years supervised probation upon his release, and restitution for the 111 investors in the amount of $4,969,384.35.​
Sears, 73, began collecting funds in 2008, according to court documents, with the goal of developing a new breed of cattle called Rocky Mountain Romangus. Proclaimed the result of cross-breeding Angus heifers and Romangnola bulls, the breed was determined by investigators to have never come into existence under Sears’s management.​
In the case indictment, Sears was described as the leasee of several southern Colorado properties where he allowed big game hunting under the business name “Trophy Outfitters, Inc.”
He used advertisements through the mail to make appeals to those hunting customers for funds toward the expansion of his cattle herd, according the case documents. Sears, as herd owner, would purchase heifers using the investors’ “entry fee,” then feed, graze, brand and breed them, and keep the calves. The investors were promised a 10 percent “leaseback fee.” At the end of the five-year contract term, Sears would buy those cows for at least the original purchase price.
GettyImages-915441418.jpg

(credit: iStock/Getty Images)​
By 2011, though, Sears’s cattle operation began to falter. Prosecutors claimed the business then began its fraudulent activity.​
Prosecutors brought into evidence a letter written to one investor in September 2013 in which Sears admitted his cattle investment program was suffering from a series of operational setbacks and financial problems. Sears blamed the troubles on a lack of pasture due to drought, subsequent increasing hay and feed costs, reductions in available irrigation water, and a disease that required his herd to be quarantined.​
Yet Sears continued to solicit funds. In fact, he received an additional $800,000 from a dozen new investors. Prosecutors, however, accused Sears of being untruthful about the condition of the program with investors, and of using the new funds to recover from his earlier losses. In some case, prosecutors stated Sears accepted funds but purchased a fraction of the number of new animals that he was contractually required to buy. In some cases, he purchased none on behalf of the investor.​
Sears also did not disclose to investors that he used money raised through the cattle program to repay $278,274 to the Internal Revenue Service. A court ordered Sears to pay that amount to settle a 2013 case which involved his failure to file an income tax return.​
In July of 2014, a particular investor became suspicious. That investor filed a court order in district court in Pueblo demanding Sears’s herd be inventoried. Brand inspectors with the State of Colorado Department of Agriculture eventually determined that Sears possessed substantially fewer cows than he was contractually obligated to possess for all of his other investors.​
“Sears promised investors that he would purchase or acquire in excess of 5,000 cows in total for such investors,” the indictment reads. “Over the course of the scheme, however, SEARS only purchased or acquired, and branded approximately 2,000 cows for investors despite his promises.”​
Sears filed for bankruptcy in 2015.​
Federal prosecutors filed their indictment against Sears in 2019.​
Last May, Sears agreed to plead guilty to one count each of mail fraud and money laundering. He faced a maximum of 30 years imprisonment on those charges alone. He also agreed to the repayment of investors’ losses. In exchange, federal prosecutors dropped nine other charges.​
“This complex case required thousands of hours of investigation by U.S. Postal Inspectors and other investigative staff,” Ruth Mendonça, Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said in a press release. “This sentence makes every minute spent unraveling this scam worthwhile.”​
Losses for nine of the investors ran into six figures.​
Sears has until noon on March 1, 2022, to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison term.​
 

MT Rookie aka OR Chris

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ORYGUN Coast Range
This Story sounds a lot like that country singer that used to try to sell people oceanfront property in Arizona and if you bought it he’d give you the rights to the Golden Gate bridge for free !!! Someone’s always trying to work an angle, all these stories always end in the same way. Jail , arrested , fines etc …. how is it that nobody seems to come to the realization that they’re not going to be the one lone individual that beats the system, whether it’s Wall Street or Main Street eventually you’re going down. Count the cost 💲.
How many movies over the years have they made about similar type stories but we all know the ending.

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Corn king 60

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Feb 4, 2021
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Kevin and other family members ran Apache park outfitters in New Mexico around 15 years ago. Total scam. Back then he was being investigated by nmgf .I guess a leopard can’t change his spots.
 

noharleyyet

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Joined
Nov 15, 2004
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33,068
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TEXAS
This Story sounds a lot like that country singer that used to try to sell people oceanfront property in Arizona and if you bought it he’d give you the rights to the Golden Gate bridge for free !!! Someone’s always trying to work an angle, all these stories always end in the same way. Jail , arrested , fines etc …. how is it that nobody seems to come to the realization that they’re not going to be the one lone individual that beats the system, whether it’s Wall Street or Main Street eventually you’re going down. Count the cost 💲.
How many movies over the years have they made about similar type stories but we all know the ending.

View attachment 207138
Either run for office or buy existing furniture. You can start with a freshman but the real thieves own the incumbents.
 

Mallardsx2

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Apr 4, 2015
Messages
1,320
Wow. That is a crazy story.

I got a buddy who got in over his head crop farming with big machinery and he booked 100% of his corn for three years and it torpedoed his farm.....

When he told me he booked all of his corn for three years I said "why the hell did you do that?!"

He said "If I dont take a gamble right now I will loose everything"....turned out he did anyhow.

He never recovered from it and had to sell everything that had been handed down to him from his grandfather. It was sad to see but it was his own greed and betting mentality that got him. He wanted to get too big too fast and it cost him big time.

Too bad too because he is a super nice guy.
 

ChrisB

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2017
Messages
39
Location
Minnesota
This Story sounds a lot like that country singer that used to try to sell people oceanfront property in Arizona and if you bought it he’d give you the rights to the Golden Gate bridge for free !!! Someone’s always trying to work an angle, all these stories always end in the same way. Jail , arrested , fines etc …. how is it that nobody seems to come to the realization that they’re not going to be the one lone individual that beats the system, whether it’s Wall Street or Main Street eventually you’re going down. Count the cost 💲.
How many movies over the years have they made about similar type stories but we all know the ending.

View attachment 207138
It only works out that way for the common man. Does anyone in our government go to jail over the fraud, breaking laws, and lying under oath?
 

OntarioHunter

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Sep 11, 2020
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4,020
LOL, yeah, time to sell some more imaginary cows to make the money to pay off the other guys who thought he was selling real cows...
Actually, making the fraud case is the only way those investors would get anything back. He declared bankruptcy to protect his ranch but it's my understanding a criminal court order for restitution trumps anything from bankruptcy court. I think this guy can say goodbye to his ranch. Boo-hoo! Probably a transplanted eastern land developer anyway. Jail is a good place for them.
 

OntarioHunter

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Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
4,020
Wow. That is a crazy story.

I got a buddy who got in over his head crop farming with big machinery and he booked 100% of his corn for three years and it torpedoed his farm.....

When he told me he booked all of his corn for three years I said "why the hell did you do that?!"

He said "If I dont take a gamble right now I will loose everything"....turned out he did anyhow.

He never recovered from it and had to sell everything that had been handed down to him from his grandfather. It was sad to see but it was his own greed and betting mentality that got him. He wanted to get too big too fast and it cost him big time.

Too bad too because he is a super nice guy.
I'm watching two BMA properties in Montana play out the same story right now. Younger generation taking the reigns with the buying shits. Credit too easy and too much debt too fast all because they have a lot of land as collateral. New houses, new machinery, expensive horses (I'm a former packer and cowboy but I admit there's never been a bigger waste of money than a high bred hayburner), multiple vacations to resorts every year, etc. Several years now those places formerly with birds have been overgrazed to dirt from too many cattle and all I hear is whining because BLM won't let them do it to grazing leases. Doesn't take a crystal ball to see both those old family ranches will be going on the auction block in a couple of years. Very sad.
 

Wind Gypsy

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Mar 12, 2017
Messages
773
Yep, got fliers from that clown every year after CO application season. Having to send out what must have been 10's of thousands of mailers to generate business as an outfitter is certainly a red flag these days.

There were threads about this operation a while back from people inquiring on rokslide. Also stuff on MM and probably 24hcf.
 

ol_spark

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Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
320
Location
NW Pa
2rocky thanks for the heads up. A number of years ago I received a postcard from some entity for an investment opportunity just as you described in your post. It sounded very interesting at the time with the opportunity to hunt on the ranch because you were also a investor. Don’t know if it was the same person or not but like you, I’m also glad that I didn’t get involved in it. Interesting stories all around this scenario for sure but it’s sad to see life long work just pi$$ed away because of bad decisions.
 

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