A Kaysville man allegedly used his position in the LDS Church to bilk friends and fellow church members out of $1.5 million, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday.
Robert Glen Mouritsen, 71, has been charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering in a phony investment scheme, which he began in 2006, according to the indictment. It says Mouritsen — who was a stake president in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kaysville from 1989 to 1997 — used his “position of prominence to induce friends and fellow church members to give him money to further a financial fraud scheme he called ‘The Project.’” Stake presidents oversee groups of Mormon congregations.
According to the indictment, Mouritsen told investors The Project “involved a series of complicated international transactions” that “involved governments in Asia and Europe and required the help of attorneys and bankers," that it was “expensive to keep The Project moving forward” and that it was “subject to extremely strict confidentiality agreements and he could not disclose many details.”
He allegedly promised high rates of return, but he did not tell the three victims — who lost more than $326,000, more than $165,000 and $33,000, respectively — that The Project didn’t produce returns, or that he “used a significant portion of investor money for his own personal use and benefit.”
The indictment seeks a forfeiture judgment of about $1.5 million.
Mouritsen entered a plea of not guilty in his first court appearance Aug. 30; he was released from custody pending a one-week jury trial scheduled to begin Nov. 4 before U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell.
The maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in federal prison and 10 years for each count of money laundering.