A Clinton man was sentenced in federal court for a $4.7 million investment cattle fraud scheme that involved about 90 investors in 21 states.
On June 26, Cameron J. Hager pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in federal court. An investigation by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's Securities Division first led to Hager's federal indictment and arrest on April 3.
Hager was sentenced to eight years in federal prison without parole. He also was ordered to pay more than $3.2 million in restitution.
"Over many months, our securities division investigated Cameron J. Hager and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to bring an iron-clad case against him," Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said in a statement Tuesday. "We're pleased to coordinate with federal officials and the Office of the U.S. Attorney, Western District, to bring this to a conclusion and obtain restitution for his victims."
The division coordinated with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office throughout the investigation process, leading to Hager's arrest.
Hager, who operated 5A Holdings, LLC, admitted he engaged in the fraud scheme from July 2015 to September 2017. Hager solicited victims to invest in a "cattle fund" that was used to purchase herds of cattle to be sold later at a substantial profit, although he never actually purchased or intended to purchase any cattle.
Hager received $4.7 million from 89 investors, with investment amounts from $1,000-$267,000. Hager deposited $394,074 into his business bank account. He also used the proceeds of the scheme, among other things, to make substantial payments on the mortgage of his 46.6-acre residential property, and to purchase a Ford F-150 pickup truck, a Toyota 4Runner, and two Winnebago travel trailers. Under the terms of his plea agreement reported in June, all of Hager's interest in that property must be forfeited to the government.
Hager convinced his victims he was locating herds of cattle farmers in distress needed to sell. He told them he would use investor funds to buy such herds, then transport the cattle to pastures/feed lots owned by himself or his company, 5A Holdings, where the cattle would be cared for, fattened and eventually sold to slaughterhouses where Hager had "contacts." Hager consistently represented that these transactions would produce a net "return" of 23-28 percent on each investment.
Investors filed complaints with the Missouri Secretary of State's Securities Division, and that office opened an investigation. Hager sent the Securities Division a written response to the allegations of fraud; in that response, he admitted there were no cattle and he had made false representations to investors.
The wire fraud charge relates to e-mails sent by Hager to a victim investor. The money laundering charge relates to Hager's withdrawal of $21,500 from his business bank account to purchase a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The FBI determined the money withdrawn by Hager for this transaction was derived from his wire fraud scheme.
Four Missourians, residents of Sikeston, Clinton and St. Charles, were among the investors.
The division issued a final order to cease and desist against Hager and 5A Holdings on June 6.