Kurt Branham Barton, the former CEO, president, and founder of Triton Financial, has been convicted of running a $50 million Ponzi scam that bilked over 300 investors across the country, including former Heisman Trophy winners Ty Detmer, Chris Weinke, and Earl Campbell, NFL Kicker David Akers, and ex-NFL quarterback Jeff Blake. Barton could be sentenced to life in prison for the Texas securities fraud.
A jury convicted Barton on almost 39 criminal counts, including numerous counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements to financial institutions in order to get loans, money laundering, and one count of securities fraud. The Ponzi scam ran for four years through 2009.
According to prosecutors, Barton lied to investors, including relatives, business leaders, pro football players, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members, when he said that his financial firm was using their money to invest in business, real estate, and short-term business loans. In fact, Barton was taking their funds to cover personal expenses, including luxury football tickets, expensive clothes, and sports cars. He deceived potential investors, commercial lenders, and financial institutions by presenting them with bogus monthly account statements.
Examples of those hit hard by Barton’s Texas securities scam is Detmer, who, during his testimony, admitted that he lost approximately $2 million-that’s the majority of his life savings-in the Ponzi scheme. The former NFL quarterback, who is now a coach in Austin, says he has been forced to liquidate accounts that were supposed to go to his daughters’ college education. He also had to put up his house for sale. Detmer thought Barton was his best friend. The two met at church. Detmer says that he even brought new investors to Barton. Another pro football player, David Akers, now of the San Francisco 49ers, lost over $3 million because of Barton’s scam. There are also many investors that aren’t famous who sustained significant losses because of the Texas Ponzi scam, including Diane Gordon, who lost her husband’s entire life insurance payment of approximately $850,000.
In 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a securities fraud lawsuit against Barton and two of his businesses. The SEC accused Barton of using famous celebrity athletes, stockbrokers, and others to promote Triton securities to new investors. Without denying or admitting to the SEC’s allegations, all defendants agreed to permanent injunctions from securities fraud violations in the future, appointment of a receiver, prohibition of the destruction of documents, and orders freezing assets.
Ty Detmer testifies at Ponzi fraud trial, UPI, August 9, 2011
Austin investment broker convicted of using NFL stars, churches to defraud clients, The Washington Post, August 17, 2011
The SEC’s Complaint (PDF)
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Ex-Triton Financial CEO Accused of Using NFL Contacts to Commit $50M Texas Securities Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 17, 2011
Texas Securities Fraud: Insurance Agent Could Get 100 Years Behind Bars for Using Fraudulent Annuities to Bilk Elderly Seniors of Over $5M, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 9, 2011
Accused Texas Ponzi Scammer May Have Defrauded Investors of $2M, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 3, 2011 Continue reading