- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A former Lafayette contractor turned investment company president has been sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison in a scam that bilked scores of investors out of more than $6 million.

U.S. District Judge Richard Haik also ordered Herbert Fouke, 55, on Wednesday to repay $6.3 million in restitution - a figure Fouke, his attorney and the judge all acknowledged will never be repaid in full, especially considering payments were set at $500 a month.

“We are going to spend years trying to recover what we lost,” said Andy Naquin, a Lafayette city-parish councilman who was among the roughly 100 investors lured by Fouke into the questionable investments.

Naquin said he lost more than $20,000, savings he handed over to Fouke based on trust in a man once considered a close friend.

“He coaxed us to bring in every dollar we had,” Naquin said in comments to the judge at the Wednesday sentencing hearing.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1qFk1f0 ) a federal grand jury in 2011 indicted Fouke and businessman Richard Joseph Buswell on fraud charges in a federal probe of Bowman Investment Group, which Buswell founded in 2006.

Buswell pleaded guilty in the case last year but has not been sentenced.

Prosecutors said his company promised big returns to clients who were never made aware their money was being put in high-risk investments.

Fouke had worked as a residential building contractor, and his initial association with Buswell was as a client of the Bowman Investment Group, according to a summary of the allegations filed by prosecutors.

Fouke later began working for Buswell as president of the investment company, tapping as clients his extensive network of friends and associates from his years in the construction businesses.

Prosecutors did not accuse Fouke of directly misleading investors but rather of failing to act when he became aware Buswell was not being straightforward with clients.

Fouke’s attorney, Carol Whitehurst, said Fouke never intentionally misled clients and was only repeating information from Buswell he believed at the time was true.

The judge ordered Fouke to report to federal prison by July 14.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com