Wichita — Federal prosecutors said Thursday they were seeking a judgment of about $18.4 million from seven defendants alleged to have defrauded business owners across the nation of millions of dollars.
A federal grand jury meeting in Wichita returned a superseding indictment Wednesday adding a forfeiture allegation to a 43-count indictment returned last month against Richard Hagan, president of PBS Global Inc. of Melbourne, Fla.
Hagan and six employees of the firm are accused of fax-blasting small businesses with fraudulent offers to help them sell their companies. Also named in the new indictment were Brian Renneisen, Media, Pa.; John Persaud and Cheri Persaud, both of Boca Raton, Fla.; Andrew Wang, Mount Laurel, N.J.; Marvin Hicks, Canton, Ga.; and Shaun Smoker, who had no known address.
The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud via fax transmissions, six counts of wire fraud via telephone calls, 13 counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and eight counts of money laundering.
The superseding indictment announced Thursday named cars and homes as subject to the forfeiture.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty.
"It's an accusation that didn't come by surprise," said Kurt Kerns, attorney for Cheri Persaud. "And we look forward to defending those false allegations just like we look forward to defending the previous false allegations."
According to the indictment, the defendants sent thousands of unsolicited faxes to small businesses throughout the nation, offering to find buyers for those businesses. The indictment said the faxes offered a 100 percent money-back guarantee that PBS Global would find qualified buyers, but that PBS later denied claims for refunds.
To deny refunds, the firm provided clients with sham matches, the government contended.