A Texas man that was convicted of operating a $75 million Ponzi scheme whose victims included former NFL players was sentenced to seventeen years in federal prison. Kurt Barton, former chief executive of Triton Financial, was previously convicted of thirty-nine charges relating to the scheme in an August jury trial and had faced an effective life sentence if sentenced to the maximum. Barton will be released from prison when he is 60 years old.
Barton, through Triton Financial, took in more than $75 million from nearly 300 investors who thought their funds would be used for legitimate business activities, including real estate investment and short-term business lending. Barton only used approximately $20 million for those activities, diverting the remainder to make fictitious interest payments to existing investors and to fund a lavish lifestyle. Barton chose to stand trial rather than accept a plea deal with prosecutors, unlike the former Triton CFO, John DiMeglio, who received a five-year sentence after accepting into a plea agreement. The tactic backfired, with a jury convicting Barton of all thirty-nine counts he was charged with.
Barton's attorneys cited DiMeglio's sentence, among other factors, in a sentencing memorandum filed with United States District Judge Sam Sparks that lobbied for a shorter sentence than the effective life sentence possible under the charges. Additionally, Barton's attorneys also compiled a list of 26 other white-collar criminals and their respective prison sentences in an effort to provide Judge Sparks with a comparative sentencing range. The move apparently worked, with only eight of those listed having a longer sentence than Barton. Interestingly, Judge Sparks also alluded that Barton's victims should have been more careful, citing the age-old principle that "if it sounds too good to be true, it is."
It is unknown as to when Barton is scheduled to report to federal prison.