Crooks or businessmen? That’s what a jury will have to decide in the next few weeks as the trial of three area men charged in a $23 million fraud scheme unfolds in U.S. District Court.
The trio is accused of selling Iraqi currency, the dinar, and placements in two nonexistent hedge funds using false statements to lure investors. Charged in the alleged conspiracy are Bradford L. Huebner, 66, of Ottawa Hills; Charles N. Emmenecker, 66, of Sylvania, and Michael L. Teadt, 67, of Maumee.
In his opening statement to the jury Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Crawford held up a 25,000 dinar note worth that he said is worth about $25 in U.S. dollars. It is not illegal to exchange dinars for dollars or sell it for a fee, but Mr. Crawford said the defendants broke the law when they lied to sell $23 million in bad investments.
Mr. Crawford said the defendants promoted the currency as a potentially profitable investment on the theory that at some unknown point in time a “revaluation” would occur. If the Iraqi government would increase the value of its currency from a tenth of a penny to, say, $2, a $25 investment could turn into $50,000.
He said the BH Group, a Toledo company started by Mr. Huebner to sell dinars, used a number of false statements to promote investment in dinars and in two related hedge funds, including the contention that a member of their group was wounded while fighting in Iraq and that the U.S. Treasury held a large sum of dinars.
From Mr. Huebner’s office overlooking Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo, the company would hold regular conference calls to lure investors, Mr. Crawford said, relying heavily on the “expertise” of Rudolph M. Coenen, a co-defendant from Jacksonville who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and five counts of money laundering.
Rick Kerger, who represents Mr. Huebner, told the jury that it was Coenen who sold Mr. Huebner on the hedge funds then spent all of the proceeds.
“Rudy Coenen, you’re going to find, is the biggest liar you ever heard,” Mr. Kerger said. “You’re going to find something else: He’s good at it, very good. He conned these guys.”
Attorneys for Mr. Teadt and Mr. Emmenecker also told jurors that the men were duped by Coenen and invested their own money in the scheme.
Mr. Huebner, Mr. Emmenecker, and Mr. Teadt each are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. Mr. Huebner also is charged with mail fraud and multiple counts of money laundering and structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements, while Mr. Teadt also is charged with mail fraud, three counts of structuring, and one count of making a false statement to an IRS agent for allegedly saying he never sold dinar.
Testimony is to begin at 9 a.m. today before Judge Jack Zouhary.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.