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March 5, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Judith M. Shaw, Securities Administrator

 

Maine Securities Administrator Announces Sentencing in Case of Theft and Securities Fraud

 

GARDINER Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw announced that Robert Howarth (a/k/a Robert J. Howarth a/k/a Robert Chiofolo a/k/a Robert Kim Lee a/k/a Robert Sachs) was sentenced on February 26, 2018 in Waldo County Superior Court to 6 years in prison for two counts each of Theft by Deception and Securities Fraud. Mr. Howarth defrauded investors out of more than $575,000.00 promising high rates of return for their investments involving resale of designer clothing.

The case was investigated by Investigators Dan Davies in the Maine Office of Securities and James Frechette formerly of the Maine Office of Securities, and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha with the assistance of Denis Culley formerly an Assistant Attorney General with the Maine Attorney Generals Office.

An indictment returned in York County in March 2015 named 2 victims and charged Howarth with Theft and Securities Fraud between May and August 2012. A second indictment was returned in Waldo County in May 2015 and named 17 victims and charged Howarth with Theft and Securities fraud between January 1, 2009 and February 1, 2010.

Mr. Howarth befriended his victims and convinced them he had recently sold a clothing business in New York for multiple millions of dollars. He impressed his victims by wearing high end clothing, maintaining an immaculate appearance and by hosting lavish parties and paying for meals and trips for his victims. Most of the investors who were victimized by Howarth lost critical savings needed for their retirement years.

Mr. Howarth disappeared from Maine shortly before the two indictments were obtained in 2015. During much of his time in hiding, Howarth is believed to have been in Fort Lee, New Jersey where he was ultimately arrested.

On December 4, 2017, Howarth entered a plea of guilty to all 4 counts. In sentencing Howarth, the judge imposed a 10-year underlying sentence with all but 6 years suspended on the Theft charge from Waldo County. He imposed a concurrent 5-year sentence on the Waldo County Securities Fraud charge, a concurrent 6-year sentence on the York County Theft charge and a concurrent 5-year sentence on the York County Securities Fraud charge. The judge also ordered 3 years of probation and restitution to be paid to the victims in the amount of $575,000.00.

This case demonstrates that we can never be too careful with our money, Administrator Shaw said. Mr. Howarth was a wolf in sheeps clothing. He ingratiated himself with his victims and once he had established a friendship, he preyed on their trusting nature and vulnerabilities. Administrator Shaw cautioned, before making an investment, even with a trusted acquaintance, questions should be asked to make sure the investment is legitimate and that all of the laws and rules regarding investments have been followed.

Administrator Shaw urged anyone who has questions about the authenticity or legality of an investment opportunity, or about the individual making the offer, to contact the Office of Securities. Information about advisers, salespersons and investing is available at www.investors.maine.gov, by calling 1-877-624-8551 or writing to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.

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The Office of Securities is an agency within Maines Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr)

Last Updated: April 5, 2019 12:59 PM