A Lancaster man charged with securities fraud after fleecing a St. Johnsbury man out of nearly $25,000 through a fraudulent investment scheme is required to pay the victim back.
On Tuesday at Coos Superior Court, Daniel Olivier, 60, who was indicted by a grand jury in December 2019 on a Class A felony count of theft by deception, was sentenced for stealing a total of $24,900 from John Barker through the scheme that officials with the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation said involved using religion and prayer to gain trust.
Bureau officials said the bulk of the money was lost either through securities trading or unauthorized debit withdrawals.
Olivier told Barker he would invest the money to make him more money through returns from online securities day trading, but instead used a good chunk of it for personal use, including for Dunkin Donuts, pizzas, past due payments on his van, a cell phone, and an expensive Asian dinner for his family, Barker told The Caledonian-Record in December 2019.
Olivier made a plea of guilty at the court during a hearing in February.
The agreement allows him to avoid prison on the condition of paying Barker restitution.
Initially facing a maximum sentence of 7 1/2 to 15 years in New Hampshire State Prison, Olivier pleaded guilty to a prison sentence of 2 to 5 years, all of which is deferred for two years and suspended for three years thereafter on condition of paying Barker the $24,900 in restitution and remaining on good behavior.
The court retains jurisdiction for three years after the deferred period to either impose or terminate the sentence.
At the time of his sentencing, Olivier, who was represented by public defender, Hanna Kinne, was required to pay $3,000 toward the total restitution.
“Mr. Olivier has made good on his promise to pay the $3,000 registered check-in payment to Mr. Barker,” Coos County Attorney John McCormick told the court during the sentencing.
The $3,000 reduces the restitution amount to $21,900.
Monthly payments during the next three years, though, would cut Olivier a break.
“In the event Mr. Olivier makes 36 consecutive monthly restitution payments of $400 between next month and April 2024, for a total of $14,400, minus the $2,448 for the administrative costs, the state would assent to amend the restitution order to vacate the remaining restitution,” said McCormick. “The rationale is that time is important here. Mr. Barker is an older gentleman and he needs the money … We’re throwing out some incentive to have Mr. Olivier make those payments.”
If the 36 consecutive payments are made, the total amount going to Barker would be $11,952, with the remaining restitution vacated.
Olivier’s deception lasted four months, from late 2017 to early 2018, after Barker and Olivier met when they both worked at White Mountain Auto Inc. in St. Johnsbury.
It began when Barker loaned Olivier $1,400 to help him get a new engine in his van.
Olivier told Barker he couldn’t pay him back right away and suggested to Barker that he instead give him some of his retirement money with which Olivier promised to invest and make more money through day trading.
In a statement issued shortly after Olivier was charged, Jeffrey Spill, deputy director for the Bureau of Securities Regulation, said Olivier misrepresented to Barker the success of his investing and that led Barker to give Olivier more of his money.
Fraud of the nature committed by Olivier is known as “affinity fraud,” which is an investment scam against people of identifiable groups, such as individuals who share religious beliefs, age, or ethnicity, said Spill.
“It’s been a pretty rough stretch,” Barker told The Caledonian-Record in 2019. “I fell victim to this con man. He got a good part of my retirement money, just stole it. I have to say the guy had me 100-percent convinced that he was honest.”
According to his financial status form signed on Feb. 23, Olivier has three dependents, $7 on hand, $98 in a business account, $100 in a checking account, and is self-employed with a monthly income of $2,000.
While Olivier’s plea and sentence resolves his superior court case, he still has legal action pending at New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation, which levied against him a $45,000 administrative fine, a large amount for an individual that is normally reserved for businesses that engage in fraud.
The bureau, the mission of which is to provide equitable securities regulation to protect New Hampshire investors, also stated in 2019 that it would be billing Olivier $10,000 to pay for the cost of its investigation.
“Here, it’s still pending,” Spill said Tuesday. “It remains to be seen what happens here.”
While businesses can steal far greater than $25,000 in fraudulent schemes, $25,000 stolen by an individual is “not an insignificant amount,” he said.
Other than Barker, there appears to be no other victims of Olivier, said Spill.