SALT LAKE CITY -- A former Scoutmaster accused of bilking more than 175 investors out of $145 million in a Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to federal prison for 10 years.
A couple of rows of Eagle Scouts were in court to support Travis Wright, of Draper, when U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups handed down the sentence Friday in Salt Lake City.
The prison term was more than the eight years previously agreed upon by attorneys in the case, but it was less than the 15 years Wright could have drawn for his guilty plea to a charge of mail fraud, the Deseret News reported (http://bit.ly/wm6iKt).
The 48-year-old businessman managed Waterford Funding, a real estate loan fund that promised returns ranging from 8 percent to 44 percent over nine months.
Waddoups said while failing to deliver on the investment may have been an honest mistake as friends and family claimed, the "evidence suggests it was much more than that."
Wright was accused of spending more than $15 million on his own lavish lifestyle, including a $5 million home, $4 million in credit card expenses, $2.4 million for jewelry, furniture and artwork, $1.3 in spending money for his wife, and $850,000 in Mormon church tithing.
"One cannot look at these numbers and conclude this was someone acting in the best interest of the investors," Waddoups said.
Wright also was ordered to pay $43.2 million in restitution to the victims, most of whom are elderly.
Several Waterford investors cried as they urged the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
"I'm one of a handful of people who can truly say they lost it all," said Daniel Humphrey, a financial adviser who also lost the money of numerous clients between 2001 and 2009. "I've lost a lifetime of self-confidence."
But several friends and family members pleaded for leniency, saying the Boy Scout leader was a good person who helped dozens of young men earn the rank of Eagle Scout.