A former lobbyist who was found guilty of bilking investors out of nearly $1 million has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison. Joan R. Laplante, 66, received a forty-six month sentence after previously being convicted of mail fraud at a five-day jury trial earlier this year. LaPlante was the former director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, the leading small business association representing small and independent businesses.
Beginning in 1996, LaPlante owned and operated JRL Business Resources LLC ("JRL"). JRL was in the factoring business, which involved the purchase of a business's receivables at a discount that provided immediate capital to the business. However, JRL ceased legitimate business activities by 2002, and instead solicited potential investors by promising annual returns ranging from twelve to eighteen percent. In total, over $2 million was given to LaPlante and JRL, and investors received fictitious monthly statements showing that their accounts were experiencing constant gains. Instead, LaPlante used new investor funds to make interest payments to existing investors, resulting in total losses that authorities estimated at $880,000.
LaPlante had faced up to twenty years in prison.