Steven Patrick Jones, one of three operators of a fraudulent shipping containers scheme, was sentenced to 85 months in federal prison on Oct. 23 and ordered to pay $8.2 million in restitution.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District sentenced Jones, who pleaded guilty in 2014. Jones was a resident of Kingwood, near Houston, and Panama City, Panama.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Texas State Securities Board.
Jones and John Patrick Acord of Magnolia, created Intermodal Wealth Inc., a shipping container company that had offices in Houston and Panama City. Investors in Intermodal Wealth were supposed to be paid profits from leasing intermodal shipping containers to businesses for use on rail, trucks, and ships. Dean Lester Springer of Hillsboro, Ore., worked as a salesman for the company in 2012.
Intermodal Wealth created sham lease agreements, and most of the money repaid to investors came from Ponzi-scheme payments made by other investors.
The Texas State Securities Board entered an Emergency Cease and Desist Order against Intermodal Wealth and its principals in 2012, alleging the company was engaged in fraud and disclosing the criminal histories, civil judgments, and tax liens of Jones and Acord.
As a result of the publicity following the order, Springer formed World Container in November 2012, promising investors he would use their funds to purchase shipping containers for the investors and make money for them by leasing the containers as he had done as a salesman for Intermodal Wealth.
Springer told investors that the new company was independent of Intermodal Wealth and its associated companies. However, Springer sent the contracts, investments and money received from World Container investors to Jones and Intermodal Wealth in Panama.
Springer did not purchase or lease containers for investors as promised. Many World Container investors were not told that Intermodal Wealth was receiving their funds, nor about the criminal records, extensive civil judgments, tax liens or Securities and Exchange Commission injunctions against Jones and Acord. Springer also failed to reveal to investors that he received a commission from investments from Jones and Acord.
Acord and Springer also pleaded guilty and were later sent to prison.