A former prosecutor and part-time magistrate judge who encouraged his investors to call him "judge" is scheduled to be released next week after serving over four years in federal prison for a massive Ponzi scheme that raised more than $45 million from nearly 10,000 victims. Bryant E. "Bry" Behrmann, 67, is set to be released from a halfway house after being sentenced to a six-year term in September 2009.
Behrmann, along with business partner Larry "Buck Hunter," operated Global Online Direct ("GID"), which held itself out to investors as a buyer of distressed inventory. GID told investors that, through its "Secured Profit Inventory Program," it could promise the payment of daily interest rates of as much as 1.00% through the "Big Dawgs Club." These returns translated into annual returns ranging from 65% to 1,800%, which were purportedly made possible through the purchase and subsequent resale of excess inventory at flea markets, retail storefronts, and online actions such as eBay and Yahoo. Investors were recruited primarily through the internet, and were advised of Behrmann's previous background as a county prosecutor and later part-time magistrate judge as a sign of the scheme's legitimacy. In total, approximately 9,400 investors entrusted nearly $46 million with the men.
However, investors were not told that Behrmann's law license was suspended in 1999 after the Idaho Supreme Court found that he had engaged in "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." Civil and criminal authorities soon alleged that GID was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme that used incoming investor funds to pay returns to existing investors. After several states issued cease and desist orders, Hunter and Behrmann were charged with securities fraud in 2007, and GID was subsequently placed in receivership. Hunter and Behrmann later pleaded guilty to money laundering charges resulting from the purchase of personal homes for their family members using shceme funds, and in September 2009 were handed down six-year prison sentences.
According to the Idaho Stateman, Hunter is scheduled to be released from a halfway house in June.