SALT LAKE CITY — A former South Ogden man who cheated hundreds of investors of an estimated $18.6 million in three Ponzi schemes wants out of prison to care for his elderly mother.
An attorney filed documents Monday in U.S. District Court asking that Wayne R. Ogden, 55, be granted early release due to “compassionate, extraordinary circumstances.”
Ogden’s 81-year-old widowed, ailing mother lives in remote Koosharem, Utah, with no one else to care for her, attorney Sharon Preston said in her motion to Judge Clark Waddoups.
Ogden has been at a federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado, for seven years and is scheduled to complete his sentence on Jan. 23, 2022.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons denied Ogden’s early release request last December, saying he did not meet agency criteria that would justify it. Death or the incapacitation of a family member caring for an inmate’s child are the only grounds for compassionate release, the bureau said.
But Preston cited the 2018 First Step Act passed by Congress, which broadened the chances for early releases for compassionate reasons.
Her motion also referred to a pair of recent federal court rulings in similar cases that authorized compassionate releases. A Massachusetts inmate’s request nearly identical to Ogden’s was granted by a federal judge there.
The Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet responded to Ogden’s request.
But when Ogden was sentenced in 2013, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Hirata said he was certain Ogden would re-offend whenever he was released.
“The public at least will get a 10-year break from a remorseless, conscienceless serial thief,” Hirata told the court, according to past Standard-Examiner coverage.
Second District Court and U.S. District Court records show Ogden has been ordered to pay $18.6 million in restitution to dozens of victims of the three Ponzi schemes.
The first was in the Ogden area in 1997, in which investors were enticed into a nonexistent real estate development. The other two were in Sandy (2007), a house-flipping scheme; and St. George (2011), in which investors in his mortgage foreclosure credit counseling business were defrauded.
An accounting of Ogden’s restitution payment record is not available, but people with knowledge of the cases say much of it remains unpaid.
The Ponzi scheme in 1997 left a trail of 141 victims owed at least $8.4 million, court records show. One victim lost $600,000 and another $417,000. Seven others each lost more than $200,000. Many more lost sums ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
Ogden was a popular real estate agent in South Ogden who built a large luxury home on two lots. Many of the 500 victims were friends and fellow church members.
Convicted in 1998, he served several years in state prison and was paroled.
In 2013, Ogden was convicted twice in federal court for new Ponzi schemes, each time getting a 10-year sentence. The sentences were imposed concurrently, meaning he would be up for release in 2022.
A Ponzi scheme is kept alive by the swindler using money from new investors to pay returns to earlier investors.
Ogden’s mother, brother and uncle wrote letters to Waddoups urging he be released because he is the only potential caretaker in the family.
Also, a retired Bureau of Prisons officer who ran a service dog training program at the Florence prison camp proclaimed in a letter that Ogden proved he is rehabilitated.
“I can say without hesitation that my job would have been a lot easier if I had 15 other dog handlers just like Mr. Ogden,” wrote the ex-officer, V. Meier. “He turned a prison sentence into something positive by his willingness to help others.”
Ogden was the primary handler for eight dogs and assisted in training many other canines from 2015 to 2019 when Meier supervised him, the letter said.
The dogs are placed to help veterans with post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, children with diabetes, and others.
“These dogs are literally saving people’s lives,” Meier said.
Ogden’s petition said he plans to work as a dog trainer when he is paroled.
Carolyn Reid Ogden, the inmate’s mother, said in her letter that she can no longer safely live alone. She walks with a cane, is at risk of stroke and lives an hour’s drive from the nearest sizable town, Richfield.
Her other children, a son and daughter, live in Mesquite and Las Vegas, Nevada, respectively, too far away to be able to help her, she said.
“I implore the court to understand that me living with my other children is not my home,” she said.
Carolyn Ogden’s brother, Don Reid of Colorado Springs, Colorado, also supported his nephew’s petition.
“My sister and her family would not have to bear the cost of assisted living and the federal government will save money by not paying for Wayne’s confinement,” Reid wrote.