St. Louis Public Radio News
Fri February 20, 2009
Man pleads guilty to massive investment fraud
By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – A Town and Country man has admitted to cheating 40 clients out of $10.3 million in investments.
53-year-old Donald Weir pleaded guilty to mail fraud Friday. Prosecutors say the scheme was simple - he sold coins he had purchased for investors without their permission, then used the proceeds to finance his lifestyle, including donations to charities, and private school and college tuition for his children.
"As with any other thief, to support a lifestyle on the backs of other people's money is reprehensible," said the U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Catherine Hanaway. "He stole this money in part to make himself look good and to create an image of himself in the community and with his lifestyle that was only made possible through the hard-earned dollars of the investors who trusted him."
Federal agents acting on a tip found nearly $3.3 million in coins in the basement of Weir's home, near Queeny Park. Investigators have made efforts to track down the remaining $10.3 million, without much luck.
"It's a tragedy that in this economic time that we have, what should have been a good investment, except for Mr. Weir's malfeasance, the victims who trusted him with their life savings, now face tremendous losses," said John Gillies, the special agent in charge of the FBI's St. Louis office. One client had invested $5 million with Weir.
Weir's plea agreement requires him to pay back the full amount that clients invested with him. Hanaway says the chances of that occurring are "slim."
No one else faces any criminal charges in the case. Weir is being sued by former clients seeking to recover their money.