Tyler Man Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Investors
By DAYNA WORCHEL
A Tyler man pleaded guilty before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on Tuesday to charges that he defrauded a group of investors out of $465,000 when they gave him money to open three fast food chicken restaurants in Arkansas.
James Henry Hardee, 41, faces up to 20 years in prison on charges and a possible $250,000 fine when he is sentenced. A date for sentencing has not been set, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Love released Hardee on a personal recognizance bond, which the government did not oppose.
According to court documents, in 2005, Hardee approached various people to invest in the Tyler-based ETRG investments for the purpose of opening and operating a group of Zaxby’s fast food chicken restaurants in Arkansas. A group of nine people invested the $465,000.
Hardee pleaded guilty to taking the money to spend on personal mortgage and vehicle payments, court documents stated. He invested no money but contributed his labor to the company and agreed to act as managing member of ETRG. Hardee received 25 percent interest in the company, the court documents stated.
It was part of the scheme that Hardee used ETRG funds in place of his scheduled compensation amount and in excess of the compensation amount he was supposed to receive for his salary, according to the court documents.
Hardee then sent falsified financial statements through email to ETRG investors “to conceal his unlawful taking of ETRG funds in lieu of his scheduled compensation in lieu of his scheduled compensation, but in excess of his scheduled compensation amount,” court documents stated.
The fraud occurred between December 2005 and December 2008. A phone number for ETRG investments in Tyler had been disconnected on Tuesday.