FORT WAYNE – A Fort Wayne man pleaded guilty Friday to selling unregistered securities.
As part of that guilty plea, Bradley Collins, 56, of the 7700 block of Wohama Drive, must offer testimony in other criminal cases, including ones brought by the federal government.
Collins was charged in October with corrupt business influence, money laundering, selling unregistered securities, being an unregistered broker/dealer of securities and five counts of securities fraud.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the additional charges will be dismissed when he is sentenced in April.
The plea agreement calls for a sentence of two years in prison, work release or on home detention, according to court documents.
Investigators believe Collins and David McQueen engaged in a Ponzi scheme using religious affinity to close the deal with investors. They estimate that Indiana victims of Collins and McQueen have lost more than $30 million.
Last year, Collins was ordered to repay $837,561 to about a dozen victims who filed a pair of lawsuits against him and his brother, who is not charged in the criminal case.
The two men, though, were affiliated with McQueen, a Michigan man under a federal fraud indictment, accused of conning nearly $50 million from victims. Federal court documents filed in Michigan accuse McQueen and others of using religious affinity to target and attract elderly investors, according to court documents.
A new federal indictment was filed against McQueen this year.
McQueen has not been charged locally. But McQueen’s name is all over the Allen Superior Court documents compiled by investigators with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Securities Division when prosecutors filed the charges against Bradley Collins:
McQueen, a licensed insurance agent in Michigan from 1998 to 2008, founded several investment funds, including the Accelerated Income Group, International Opportunity Consultants and Diversified Global Finance.
Bradley Collins was licensed to sell insurance in Indiana, but like McQueen, has no significant experience or training in finance or investment fund management. Nor had Collins registered to sell securities in Indiana related to McQueen’s three investment funds, court records said.
But prosecutors allege that between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2010, Collins acted as a sales agent for McQueen and his three investment funds.
He received commissions of 1 percent to 2 percent for each client dollar invested in those unregistered funds.
In various meetings with potential investors, Collins assured them he and McQueen were good Christian men and that God had brought Collins and McQueen together.
He told one man that McQueen once worked for Ronald Reagan, court records said.
Collins often emphasized his Christianity while soliciting the investment even wearing a pastor’s outfit’ to a solicitation meeting, the investigator wrote in court documents.
In one case, Collins promised a 10.25 percent annual return on an investment to a woman who invested $30,000. Collins told that woman that being a Christian himself he would not affiliate himself with a company that wasn’t an honest and moral company, according to court documents.
That woman’s husband invested another $30,000 after Collins told him that he prayed about selling these investments for weeks before he got the OK’ from God, according to court documents.
At a meeting at the Fort Wayne Marriott on Oct. 22, 2008, Collins convinced investors to roll over their investments from one of the funds to the one of the others, promising them it would make everybody a lot of money and again reassuring them that he and McQueen were good Christian men, court records said.
In the federal indictment, McQueen is accused of telling unwitting investors that he and his associates were Christians who preferred to deal with God-fearing, church-going people, and that it was a blessing to be blessing potential investors with the opportunity to hand over their money, according to court documents.
But bank records showed that most of the money moved back and forth between accounts, with Collins receiving a total of nearly $1.7 million in commissions on the investment referrals.
The case against McQueen is still pending in a U.S. District Court in Michigan.
As part of his plea agreement in the Allen County case, Collins must testify truthfully in any criminal or civil proceedings brought by the state of Indiana or the United States of America against other defendant or accomplices, according to court documents.