A popular Northwest musician and record producer has pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to lure investors into bogus music projects, including a charity album he allegedly said would feature songs by Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Lady Gaga.
Kasey Anderson, the frontman and guitarist for the alt-country group Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, pleaded guilty to taking more than $526,000 from 30 investors. He has repaid just over a$160,000 so far, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Anderson, who is from Vancouver and who was a featured artists at Bumbershoot 2011, will be sentenced Nov. 22 by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma.
According to a plea agreement, Anderson admitted that between 2009 and 2011, he tapped investors for more than $500,000 for several projects, including a charity album to help fund the defense for the “West Memphis Three,” three men convicted of murder in Arkansas in 1994 and whose case has garnered national attention.
Anderson claimed he has signed on numerous stars and a family member of one of the men, but those contracts did not exist, according to court documents. To further the fraud, Anderson created fake email accounts for prominent music industry members and sent emails from those accounts to investors, according to plea documents.
The charges allege that Anderson had met some of the investors after they had helped him fund a successful European tour with The Honkies in 2009. In his original offering memorandum, he said he had claimed participation of Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, Foo Fighters, Johnny Depp and others.
The offering said the project would cost a total of $206,000, of which he would come up with half himself and tap investors for the other half. He predicted the album — which would be titled “Trapped Like a Ghost” — would sell 85,000 copies and be downloaded 100,000 times.
The investors would receive more than $500,000 back from their $103,000 investment within two years, Anderson said, according to the charges.