PROVO — Sentencing for a Mapleton man charged in a multicounty real estate Ponzi scheme has been put on hold at the request of prosecutors to give the suspect a chance to testify against his former boss at trial.
Defense attorney Larry Keller said Dan Starr has agreed to testify against his former boss, Calvin Paul Stewart, 54, who faces multiple felony charges in Utah and Salt Lake counties. Starr plead guilty in January to reduced charges of sale of unregistered securities and acting as an unregistered securities agent, both third-degree felonies, as part of a plea bargain. Some 29 other felony counts of securities fraud and sale of unregistered securities were dropped. In exchange, attorneys say Starr has agreed to take the stand as the state's witness against Stewart, if he goes to trial.
Deputy Utah County Attorney David Wayment said Starr helped run Stewart's Utah County office during the alleged scheme.
In Utah County, Stewart faces 17 second- and third-degree felony counts of securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities and acting as an unlicensed securities agent. He also faces charges of securities fraud and racketeering in two cases pending against him in Salt Lake County.
According to county prosecutors and officials with the Utah Attorney General's Office, Stewart is accused of selling investment opportunities to property owners between August 1999 and December 2001. As part of the scheme, Stewart allegedly asked investors to sell or refinance their property with the assurance that the property equity would be kept in escrow for investment.
Prosecutors allege that Stewart and others defendants, such as Starr, used the money to buy other property in an alleged Ponzi scheme. Investigators with the Utah Attorney General's Office say numerous investors lost tens of millions of dollars in the scheme.
Starr was scheduled to be sentenced in 4th District Court on Tuesday, but Wayment asked that sentencing be delayed until after Starr testifies. Wayment said state parole officials are recommending "substantial jail time" for Starr.
"We would be willing to extend to him some leniency if he's cooperative," Wayment said.
A new sentencing date of June 24 was set for Starr.
Wayment said he did not know if Stewart will be brought to trial by then. Stewart, who has declared himself indigent in Utah and Salt Lake counties, is currently at odds with public defense attorneys in both courts. Stewart has asked to represent himself at trial with the public defenders acting as stand-by counsel, much to the protest of public defense attorneys. Utah County public defense attorney Richard Gale said he cannot adequately represent Stewart as stand-by counsel and has requested the court reject Stewart's motion.
If the motion is denied, Stewart says he will represent himself at trial.