This week, a federal jury found Kurt Barton, former CEO of Austin-based Triton Financial, guilty of running a $75 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded approximately 300 investors out of more than $50 million. Victims included: professional athletes David Akers and Ty Detmer, business owners, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a retired teacher, an Austin-area hotel owner, and Barton's own family.
Prosecutors accused Barton of raising $75 million for investments in real estate and business, and then using the funds to pay Triton's company expenses, to make Ponzi payments to other investors, and for his personal purposes. Of the funds raised, less than one third was returned to investors. At least $2 million was spent on luxury football tickets, sports cars, private jets, and clothing for Barton's family.
According to court testimony, Barton frequently lied to investors, particularly about the nature of their investments. Investigators said Barton solicited and received funds for investments in properties that never existed, and that he promised "free and clear" titles to investors for properties that were later used by Triton as collateral.
Barton's attorney defended Barton by saying that, while he certainly mismanaged the company, he never meant to defraud any of the investors. It was a defense, however, that the jury obviously didn't buy.
After six hours of deliberation, the jury found Barton guilty on 39 federal counts, including: securities fraud, wire fraud, false statements related to loans, money laundering, and conspiracy. He faces a life in prison.