Investment fraud victims receive money

Thursday, August 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Twenty-five people who lost much of their life savings in a fraud scheme have recovered some of the money with checks totaling $700,000.

The victims, mostly retired people, received the checks Wednesday from U.S. Attorney David O'Meilia of the Northern District of Oklahoma.

The money comes from the sale of a home and other assets belonging to Steven Martin Clayton Dodson, who swindled the victims out of the bulk of their retirement funds after being fired from Dean Whitter, authorities said.

After Dodson left the investment firm, he contacted former clients and convinced them to leave Dean Whitter in Tulsa and let him handle the investments.

He promised the money would go into low-risk investments, but a federal investigation showed Dodson diverted more than $4.7 million for personal use, O'Meilia said.

Dodson was convicted in 1998 of 21 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, and his home and business were seized and sold.

It was the longest white-collar prison sentence handed out in the Northern District of Oklahoma since the federal sentencing guidelines were initiated in 1987, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tulsa.

``Rarely, if ever, have I seen so many elderly people _ so dependent on their life savings _ victimized by one defendant,'' U.S. Senior District Judge H. Dale Cook said at the 1999 sentencing hearing.

Cook also ordered Dodson to pay more than $4.7 million in restitution to his victims.

The checks presented Wednesday _ which ranged from about $552 to about $91,000 _ leave about $4 million still outstanding. Still, they were appreciated by their recipients.

``It's very encouraging that you have this sort of recourse if you hang in there,'' said 74-year-old Tulsan James R. Schneider, who received a check for more than $14,000.

Schneider said the amount is about 14 percent of what he lost in his investment with Dodson, the same percentage recovered by his fellow victims.

He said he doesn't expect to recover everything he lost.

``Ain't no way,'' Schneider said. ``I'm not going to live that long.''