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A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment on May 23 accusing a Beverly Hills man of soliciting more than $9 million from investors with false claims they were investing in a hemp farm that did not exist. The defendant, Mark Roy Anderson, 68, is currently completing an 11.25-year prison sentence for a prior federal fraud case and was living in Beverly Hills while on supervised release. He faces five counts of wire fraud in the new case.
Authorities allege Anderson tricked investors into providing funds for his company, Harvest Farm Group, to harvest and process hemp, grown on his farm, into medical grade CBD isolate to be sold for a substantial profit. Special agents with the FBI arrested Anderson on May 9 after prosecutors filed a criminal complaint outlining a series of actions and false statements that allegedly induced victims to send money to Anderson. The scheme allegedly ran from June 2020 to April 2021.
“To induce the victim-investors to invest in Harvest Farm Group, defendant Anderson falsely represented that, through Harvest Farm Group: he owned and operated a hemp farm in Kern County, California; he had already completed successful and profitable harvests of hemp from the farm; and he was using his own machinery and equipment to convert the hemp into CBD isolate and/or Delta 8, a psychoactive substance that, like CBD isolate, could be used in consumer products ranging from olive oil to body cream,” the indictment read.
None of Anderson’s claims regarding the farm were true, authorities said.
Anderson allegedly attempted to maintain a veneer of trustworthiness by taking steps to assure investors the Harvest Farms Group was legitimate and he was not the Mark Roy Anderson who had been previously convicted of other crimes, authorities said. The indictment alleges Anderson, “concealed that he had been convicted of multiple federal and state felony crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, grand theft, forgery, preparing false evidence and money laundering, and concealed that he was still serving a criminal sentence and still on supervised release at the time he was soliciting investments.”
Anderson allegedly used investor money for personal expenses, including more than $650,000 for luxury and vintage vehicles, over $400,000 in cash withdrawals, more than $142,000 in retail purchases and other personal expenses, including more than $1.3 million spent to purchase a residence and surrounding citrus groves in Ojai. Anderson, who has been ordered held without bond in this case, is scheduled to be arraigned in United States District Court on May 30. Each count of wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
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