A King County jury has found the former owner of a South Seattle construction company guilty of securities fraud for deceiving investors out of their money.
Laurence Anthone, who owned MA Quik Framing, was tried in Superior Court on 15 criminal counts of theft and securities fraud. On Wednesday, the jury found him guilty of eight counts of securities fraud, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott Peterson.
Anthone, 49, has been facing criminal charges since August 2008. He was initially charged with 19 counts, a combination of theft and securities fraud, but several charges were dismissed over the years.
Prosecutors said the case took more than four years to go to trial because new lawyers for both sides were appointed and because the evidence was extremely complicated.
According to court documents, Anthone led investors in 2003 and 2005 to believe he owned or was purchasing several parcels of property in Seattle’s Central District as well as Skyway and Renton and would be building homes, commercial developments, or developed lots of land.
“No houses were ever built, no lots … nothing. He complained that the King County permitting folks were interfering,” Peterson said.
Peterson said that only a few people received a little money back from him, the rest were offered “excuses” when they asked for a refund. When victims became demanding, Anthone would avoid them, Peterson added.
Prosecutors say Anthone has long been under investigation by the Securities Division of the state’s Department of Financial Institution. Michelle Mack, an investigator for the state, told prosecutors that between January 2003 and November 2005, Anthone collected $1.1 million from investors. Mack investigated Anthone’s seven bank accounts, according to King County prosecutors.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott Peterson said that of the $1.1 million, more than $400,000 was withdrawn from banks in cash. It’s unclear what that money was spent on, he added.
Several of the victims sued Anthone in civil court.
Anthone faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 7.