HELENA, MT – Richard Brandt of Miles City was convicted on six counts of elder exploitation, operating a Ponzi scheme, theft by embezzlement, and securities fraud yesterday in the Montana Sixteenth Judicial Court in Custer County.
The Office of the Montana State Auditor, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance prosecuted Brandt in a joint effort with Custer County attorney Wyatt Glade. Brandt had deceived elderly Montanans into investing in his “house flipping” company. Eighteen people invested more than $1.9 million with Brandt and most lost their entire life savings.
“I’m very glad to see the jury return guilty verdicts on this scheme that stole millions from Montanans,” Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Matt Rosendale said. “Our office does not tolerate people who steal from our neighbors in Big Sky Country.”
Brandt was found guilty on all six counts, which included:
- Exploitation of an elderly person
- Theft by embezzlement
- Failure to register as a securities salesperson
- Failure to register a security
- Fraudulent practices
- Operating a pyramid promotional scheme (Ponzi scheme)
Kris Hansen, chief legal counsel for the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, hailed the work of the State Auditor’s attorneys and securities staff.
“Our legal and securities team did fantastic work on this case to make sure that justice was served,” Hansen said. “We’re here to protect Montanans from bad actors and we’re happy to have put an end to this scam.”
The case began with Adult Protective Services in Miles City filing a securities inquiry with the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance after Brandt had stolen about $90,000 from a 100-year-old woman’s bank account. Brandt is being held on a $500,000 cash bond pending his sentencing, which could include up to 70 years in jail and significant fines.
Montanans who suspect securities fraud are encouraged to contact the Commissioner’s office at (800) 332-6148 or csimt.gov/your-investments/report-fraud