- Associated Press - Saturday, July 12, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A federal judge has sentenced an Arkansas investor to 22 years in prison for fraud and ordered him to pay more than $1 million in restitution to 333 victims.

U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks Friday sentenced Allen Wichtendahl, 62, on separate mail and securities fraud charges as well as a money laundering charge to which he entered guilty pleas in October.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Saturday (https://bit.ly/VXfMOx ) that Wichtendahl declined to give a statement before the judge handed down the sentence.

Brooks said he took into account Wichtendahl’s age and poor health in sentencing him but that the defendant had dedicated most of his adult life to being a con man.

Court records indicate that in July 2009, Wichtendahl solicited individuals to invest in parts of a company called New Vision Technology. Wichtendahl claimed the company sold products in Bulgaria and planned to build a power plant, sell tractors and establish a cassava processing facility in Nigeria.

Prosecutors say Wichtendahl did not disclose to investors that most of the money was used for personal living expenses.

“He’s a con man,” Brooks said. “He’s a con man’s con man. He was good, but he was a con man.”

Recalling videos of Wichtendahl’s sales pitches that were recorded by undercover FBI agent Tim Akins and played in court, Brooks told Wichtendahl it appeared he could sell anything but that he took the wrong path, resorting to fraudulent and predatory practices to make money.

Brooks said he wondered how Wichtendahl could take money from one investor who was unemployed and made his monthly payments from his savings.

Remarks by Brooks were echoed by Wichtendahl’s ex-wife, Dessislava Sapoundjiera, who said he used his families as parts of his schemes. Sapoundjiera, who came to the U.S. from Bulgaria and who married Wichtendahl in 2000, said Wichtendahl was married five times.

“We were not Allen Wichtendahl’s family; we were his victims,” she said.

Brooks rejected defense arguments that at least part of New Vision Technology was legitimate. Brooks said the fact that most of the money invested in New Vision Technology went into Wichtendahl’s pocket negated any claims of legitimacy.

“It was just a big con,” the judge said. “The entire scheme was all fraudulent in nature.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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