Former Yellowstone Partners’ CEO David Hansen pleads guilty to wire fraud scheme

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The following is a news release from the Idaho U.S. Attorney’s Office.

POCATELLO — Former Yellowstone Partners CEO David Hansen pleaded guilty to wire fraud Tuesday as part of a plea agreement with the court. As a result, the trial set for January 21, 2020, was vacated.

According to court records, Hansen was the CEO and a 90-percent partner in Yellowstone Partners, LLC, an investment management firm headquartered in Idaho Falls. Clients of Yellowstone Partners entrusted their monies to Yellowstone Partners to invest and manage on their behalf. In exchange, Yellowstone Partners earned fees for its services. Yellowstone Partners’ fees were set forth in investment agreements between Yellowstone Partners and its clients.

According to court records, Yellowstone Partners’ clients’ monies were kept in accounts at third-party custodians. Yellowstone Partners directed how the monies in client accounts were invested and how they were disbursed. This included submitting email billing requests to a third-party custodian to take fees from client accounts and to deposit them into Yellowstone Partners’ own accounts.

According to court records, from 2008 through April of 2016, Hansen knowingly and intentionally devised a scheme to defraud clients of Yellowstone Partners by obtaining money or property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. Specifically, the scheme was to fraudulently bill clients for fees to which Yellowstone Partners was not entitled under the terms of the investment agreements or otherwise. Through this overbilling scheme, Hansen fraudulently obtained client funds from a third-party custodian and used them to enrich himself and to fund Yellowstone Partners’ operations.

For certain identified victims, Hansen personally submitted, or was carbon-copied, on 50 fraudulent overbilling requests to a custodian, which resulted in a loss of $2,675,856. For each of the overbilling, Hansen acted with the intent to deceive or cheat the victims.

As part of the plea agreement, Hansen agreed to pay full restitution to the victims of the wire fraud scheme, in an amount to be determined by the court at the time of sentencing. Further, Hansen agreed to a forfeiture judgment in the amount of restitution ordered by the court at the time of sentencing. Finally, Hansen agreed to cooperate with an Internal Revenue Service civil tax examination and assessment, and pay any unpaid tax due and owing, and accrued interest for his 2012 and 2013 Form 1040 joint income tax returns.

“Mr. Hansen was entrusted with other people’s money. He breached their trust. And his conduct over a prolonged period of time undermines the confidence of everyone who entrusts their money with others to invest,” U.S. Attorney Bart Davis said. “By this prosecution and guilty plea, we hope to strongly deter others in Hansen’s position from engaging in the same behavior, and assure the investing public that those who do will be held fully accountable.”

“High-ranking corporate officials, such as Mr. Hansen, hold positions of trust not only in their companies but also in the eyes of the public,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Andy Tsui. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating individuals who abuse that trust by fraudulently using their corporations as personal piggy banks.”

For the wire fraud count, Hansen faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release.

Sentencing for Hansen is currently set for March 31, 2020, before Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.