Jon Michael Harder, former CEO of the Salem-based Sunwest Management retirement centers, has been accused of defrauding more than 1,000 investors in an alleged $130 million investment fraud scheme. Prosecutors say the alleged investment scheme ran from 2006 to 2008 and drove the company to near collapse.
As CEO of Sunwest Management, Harder controlled approximately 300 assisted-living facilities. Each facility served more than 15,000 elderly residents. According to the 56-count indictment, Harder told potential investors that Sunwest was a successful, profitable business, even though the company was losing millions of dollars per year as early as 2006. To cover up the company’s losses, he allegedly raised money from investors and went on a “buying spree,” during which he acquired new facilities at the average rate of one per week.
The indictment further alleges that Harder violated his promises and representations to investors by comingling their funds and using their money to pay guaranteed returns to earlier investors. He also is accused of diverting and laundering money to finance his “lavish lifestyle.”
After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Harder voluntarily turned himself in to Portland authorities last week. He has been charged with 25 counts of mail fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, and 20 counts of money laundering. If convicted, he could face decades in prison. For more about the case, click here.