Barron Thomas Faces Fraud Charges

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Well-known Arizona-based aircraft broker, Barron Thomas, 55, and his mother, 78, are facing charges after allegedly receiving more than $8 million over 16 years by way of fraudulent short-term investment programs. A pre-trial conference has been set for May 11. State attorney general Tom Horne says Thomas placed an ad in Trade-a-Plane soliciting contributions of no less than $25,000 from investors. The investors thought they were taking part in short-tern investment or loan programs. But a cease and desist order that included an order for restitution and penalties, filed Jan. 4, alleges it was more of a ponzi scheme.

Investors believed their money would be used to flip aircraft (buy old used aircraft and refurbish them to be sold for profit) and that the money would be returned plus 12-percent interest. So far, at least 60 investors have come forward to claim they have not received payments promised them under the deal. According to the cease and desist papers, "An Arizona investor purchased a $50,000 12% Investment from BT and BTA on or about March 14, 2005. On April 22, 2005, BT and BTA used the Arizona investor's money to repay the prior Texas investor." For more details, read the document in full, online (PDF).