Oklahoma Man Attempts Suicide Before Sentencing

Wednesday, June 10th 2009, 10:20 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

OOLOGAH, OK -- An Oklahoma man was supposed to be sentenced on Wednesday for bilking dozens of investors out of millions.  But, instead of appearing in a Connecticut court, investigators say he tried to commit suicide.

Loved, trusted, admired.  That's how many of Todd Bingham's friends and family described him until they became his victims.  Federal prosecutors say the man from Oologah, Oklahoma, ran a scam over six years, involving 42 investors and more than $7 million.

They say Bingham told investors he was buying used cars at auction and selling them for a profit to car rental companies, like Enterprise.  But, he wasn't. Prosecutors say he used the money to pay his mortgage, credit cards and to even go on vacation.

They say Bingham used elaborate measures to conceal his scam and recruit more and more investors, making up false bills of sale using Enterprise letterhead and concocting an audit by the IRS when some questioned why they couldn't access their investments.

According to court documents, one of the victims was a 21-year-old man who played on Bingham's American Legion baseball team.

He had gone to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina as a contract laborer, earning $60,000.  He says in court records Bingham, a man he looked up to, convinced him to invest, leading to a financial nightmare.

Prosecutors say Bingham took advantage of his own God-parents.

One victim, facing financial ruin, said in court records that he prays he will be able to keep his home.  Another said: "Todd destroyed many lives and he doesn't care."  Another said the whole ordeal makes it hard to trust anyone anymore.

Todd Bingham was facing five and a half to seven years in federal prison.  He was supposed to find out on Wednesday what his punishment would be.  But, police officers say he was found slumped against his car with a gunshot wound to the head.           

Officials say Bingham is in the hospital in critical condition.