A Bigfork man with a lengthy criminal record for felony theft and fraud was recently found guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings of 21 counts for running a Ponzi scheme.
A jury found John Kevin Moore guilty Aug. 3 of 11 counts of wire fraud, nine additional counts of money laundering and one count of making false statements to a federal agent.
As part of the jury’s verdict, Moore was ordered to pay restitution of about $1.9 million to the people he stole from.
Moore is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the first count and an additional 10 years and $250,000 for each additional count.
His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8 in the Missouri River Federal Courthouse in Great Falls.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Morris granted a request by Moore to be jailed in Missoula while he waits to be sentenced.
Moore had pleaded not guilty in June 2017 to stealing about $2 million from investors.
According to court documents, Moore allegedly solicited money from multiple investors as the owner of two businesses, a mining company called Big Sky Mineral Resources and a fine art investment company called Glacier Gala.
The charges alleged that Moore received more than $2 million based on false claims and used money from some investors to pay others.
Prosecutors also claim that some of the money Moore solicited from investors was used to pay for some of his personal expenses without authorization from those investors.
All 10 charges were made based on wire transactions allegedly paid to and from Moore’s business accounts from September 2014 through July 2016.
According to an affidavit filed by Montana Deputy Securities Commissioner Lynne Egan, the Montana Commissioner of Insurance and Securities began investigating Moore in May 2016. After examining Moore’s bank accounts, Egan found that 36 investors had allegedly given Moore at least $2.7 million.
“Upon receipt of investment proceeds from investors, Moore typically withdrew a portion of the money from the local Rosauer’s supermarket in the form of ATM withdrawals and checks,” Egan wrote.
“Another portion of that money went to pay previous investors. Still another portion of that money went to pay Moore’s own mortgages. Yet another portion went to purchase art for his homes and new vehicles for himself. Still another portion went to pay overdraft fees from his ATM and other cash withdrawals.”
The bank transactions listed in the state’s affidavit include a $450,000 payment from Moore’s accounts to Summit Oil. The Big Sky Mineral Resources website included documents showing Summit West Oil transferred interest in about 60,000 acres of oil leases to Big Sky Mineral Resources in September 2014. Lewis and Clark County recorded the transfer in June 2015, according to the county website.
According to court documents, Moore has a long history of questionable investment schemes and brushes with the law.
Moore was convicted of federal felony mail fraud in May 2003 for portraying himself as a licensed hunting guide when he shipped an illegally killed bull elk from Meagher County to a Texas hunter who had shot the animal in 1998. At the time of the kill, Moore was not a licensed guide and did not inform the hunter or state officials that the bull had been illegally killed.
In that case, Moore was originally convicted by a jury of violating the Lacey Act, which bans the illegal trafficking of wildlife, but an appeals court overturned the conviction because it found Moore did not have enough knowledge of the elements of the poaching to make the conviction stick.
In 2005 Moore had his federal probation on the mail-fraud conviction revoked by U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell.
Moore had also been convicted previously in the late 1980s for defrauding someone out of $75,000 in a gold coin scheme. He was also involved in a 1985 case in which he acted as an art dealer for Bitterroot Fine Arts in Stevensville and allegedly defrauded a former University of Arizona neurosurgeon out of $312,000 for paintings.