United States Court House 03

The United States Court House in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — Age, health and fair-trial issues have put off a fraud case against a Kaysville man accused of scamming fellow church members out of $1.5 million.

The 72-year-old defendant had a heart attack in early March and prosecutors meanwhile worry one of the alleged victims, 91, might die before the trial, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Robert Glen Mouritsen, a former stake president in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, cheated fellow church members of $524,000 in an investment scam over a 12-year period, a federal grand jury indictment alleges.

Mouritsen pleaded not guilty Aug. 30, 2018, to felony wire fraud and money laundering charges, according to U.S. District Court records.

From 2006 through August last year, Mouritsen “used his ecclesiastical leadership role to induce friends and fellow church congregates to provide him money in order to further a venture he called ‘The Project,’” the indictment said.

The indictment listed three investors, who lost $326,000, $165,000 and $33,000, respectively, but prosecutors said the total amount stolen from all victims was $1.5 million.

On Feb. 1, Mouritsen’s federal public defender asked Judge Tena Campbell to grant a second 180-day continuance of the trial to give him more time to track down and interview at least 20 witnesses, some of whom may live outside Utah.

Prosecutors objected, saying a 91-year-old victim is in good health, but further delays in the trial may jeopardize his ability to testify.

On Feb. 19, Campbell granted the request, ruling the delay protected Mouritsen’s due process rights. But she agreed attorneys could take the victim’s deposition, which could be used in the trial if he could not testify.

The deposition was scheduled for March 11. But in a motion filed March 7, attorneys requested an indefinite delay in the deposition.

“Mr. Mouritsen had a massive heart attack late last week and will be in the hospital for a while,” the motion said.

Campbell the next day agreed to postpone the deposition.

“Mr. Mouritsen has a right to confront his witnesses by being present at (the alleged victim’s) deposition,” the motion said, so the deposition won’t happen until Mouritsen is well enough to travel to the deposition.

The trial is now scheduled Aug. 12.

Mouritsen told investors the Project included a series of complicated international transactions that involved governments in Asia and Europe and required the help of attorneys and bankers, the indictment said.

He told them the deals were subject to confidentiality agreements and he could not disclose many details, according to the document.

Alluring projections included promises of 15 percent annual returns and another 100 percent return when The Project was completed.

After investors began asking questions, Mouritsen “lulled them into a false sense of security,” according to the indictment, by saying the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security were holding up the transactions. He said more money for attorneys’ fees would help speed the process, the indictment said.

The grand jury document alleged Mouritsen used the investment proceeds for himself.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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