Utah man sentenced to federal prison for defrauding investors

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LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – A Utah man was sentenced today to five years in federal prison for defrauding individuals involved in his business venture investment schemes.

Ryan West, 45, of Logan, pled guilty in August to four counts of wire fraud connected to his fraudulent schemes, the Department of Justice says. In total, West defrauded his victims of a cumulative amount of over $5.4 million between 2011 and 2016.

West’s first fraudulent scheme involved soliciting investments from an individual for a business venture involving operating a gravel quarry in Texas. Instead of using the investor’s money for the business venture, West used the money for personal expenses, including payments on a 4-carat diamond and other business expenses, a press release says.

West also borrowed money for the quarry operations against the equity in the home of a person he met through a church. West then defaulted on the loans and the victim lost their home in foreclosure, according to the Department of Justice.

Another scheme involved West soliciting investments in commercial property flipping ventures in North Dakota. West borrowed approximately $650,000 from multiple victims. Only $150,000 of $350,000 invested was ever used for the real estate venture. The remaining money was used by West for other business ventures that he did not tell the investors about.

West then sold the North Dakota property without telling his investors and made $190,000 which he kept for himself, officials said.

Only one investor was repaid their $350,000, the others each lost $100,000.

“Driven by greed, Mr. West and Mr. Gygi’s criminal misconduct devastated their victims, some of whom were seniors and vulnerable adults,” said Special Agent in Charge Dennis Rice of the Salt Lake City FBI. “To those who make false claims to steal people’s money, know that there are serious consequences. We also urge the public to do their due diligence when approached about investment opportunities, understanding that there are unscrupulous fraudsters who stand at the ready to separate you from your hard-earned money and property.”

Gary Alan Gygi, 57, of Holladay also pled guilty as West’s co-defendant and is going to be sentenced on Dec.16.

West has also been ordered to pay over $5.4 million in restitution to his victims and is ordered to forfeit over $5.2 million in proceeds and a 4-carat diamond.

West has been ordered to report to federal prison in 90 days. He is currently not in custody.

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