2 Mississippi men sentenced in a timber scheme that caused investors to lose millions of dollars

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that a former lawyer and a former lobbyist in Mississippi have been sentenced for conspiracy to defraud people in a fake timber investment scheme that caused investors to lose tens of millions of dollars.

The former lawyer, Jon Darrell Seawright, 51, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. Former lobbyist Ted “Brent” Alexander, 58, was sentenced to five years of probation, which includes two years of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Both men are from Jackson.

During sentencing Tuesday, the men were ordered to pay $977,045 in restitution.

Each had pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Seawright entered his plea in July 2022, and Alexander entered his in April.

Federal prosecutors announced in May 2021 that Alexander and Seawright had been indicted on multiple charges in an investment scheme that “affected hundreds of victims across multiple states over a number of years.”

A Mississippi businessman, Arthur Lamar Adams, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison in May 2018 after pleading guilty to running the timber scheme in which investors lost $85 million.

Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said in 2018 that he and his wife were “surprised and disappointed” that they were among the victims who lost money.

Federal prosecutors have said Seawright and Alexander both admitted that between 2011 and 2018, they took part in the scheme to defraud investors by soliciting millions of dollars under false pretenses and failing to use investors’ money as promised.

Alexander and Seawright said they were loaning money to a “timber broker” to buy timber rights from landowners and then sell the timber rights to lumber mills at a higher price. They promised investors a return of 10% or more over 12 or 13 months.

The U.S. attorney in 2021, Darren LaMarca, said Alexander and Seawright were “downplaying and concealing” the fact that there were no real contracts for timber and lumber mills and the “broker” was Madison Timber Properties, LLC, a company wholly owned by Adams.

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