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Directors of La Grande Company Sentenced to Federal Prison for Conviction in Federal Money Laundering Case Defendants Ordered to Pay in Excess of $38 Million in Restitution to Thousands of North American Investors Who Lost Millions of Dollars

U.S. Attorney’s Office August 31, 2009
  • District of Oregon (503) 727-1000

PORTLAND, OR—Bryant E. Behrmann, 63, and Larry “Buck” E. Hunter, 63, were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown. Both defendants pled guilty in June 2009 to money laundering in connection with a scheme to defraud thousands of investors through their company, Global Online Direct. Judge Brown sentenced both defendants to serve 72 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The defendants were ordered to pay restitution to their victims in the amount of $38,279,352. Berhmann and Hunter were ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons on January 8, 2010 to begin serving their sentence.

According to court documents, in 2005 Hunter and Behrmann founded a company known as Global Online Direct. Global’s headquarters of operations were reported in La Grande, Oregon, with Hunter and Behrmann listed as the officers and directors of Global. From 2005 through 2007, defendants marketed Global as a company that purchased distressed inventory and then purportedly resold that inventory for profits through flea markets, street sales, retail storefronts, and internet auctions. Global’s website falsely promised investors that “each dollar loaned to Global Online Depository is SECURED by tangible product inventories stored in our own warehouses.” Global’s website also promised investors referral fees and annual returns that could exceed 1,500%; however, according to the court documents, those returns were fabricated by defendants.

Global did not have sufficient inventory to “secure” investor funds. Similarly, Global’s business model and company performance could not and did not generate profits needed to pay the returns promised to investors.

Both Hunter and Behrmann were subject to multiple cease and desist orders issued by various state administrative agencies, which prohibited them from selling securities in several states based on previous misrepresentations to investors. For example, in 1996 the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services ordered Hunter to stop offering or selling securities in the State of Oregon in violation of state law. Furthermore, Behrmann held himself out to Global investors as a judge. In fact, Behrmann was a magistrate judge in Idaho over 20 years ago, but he was suspended from the practice of law by the Idaho Supreme Court in 1999, and he has never been reinstated as a member of the Idaho State Bar.

Over 7,500 investors from Oregon, numerous other states, and Canada, sent approximately $40 million to Global. Contrary to Hunter and Behrmann’s claims that the investors’ money was secured by product inventory, Global purchased less than $3 million in inventory over the life of the company.

Although some early investors in Global received money back from Global when they made investment withdrawal requests, such returns were paid out of funds provided by later investors, not from Global’s sale of product inventory. Hunter and Behrmann misappropriated millions of dollars from Global's investor funds for their own personal use and for the personal use of their family and close associates. Specifically, defendants traveled to Europe and Asia, bought SUVs, trucks, and cars, and purchased multiple residences and other property for their own personal use and for the personal use of their family – all with funds from Global investors. money laundering charges. Most of Global’s investors never received their money back, nor did they receive the interest that Hunter and Behrmann’s company had falsely promised them.

Hunter and Behrmann were sentenced today for money laundering crimes that stemmed from the two defendants using Global investor funds to purchase personal residences for their family members in Oregon and Nevada.

This case was jointly investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Amy Potter and Craig Gabriel prosecuted the case.

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