SEATTLE — An Everett woman who led an investment scheme that bilked 82 investors out of about $6 million was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Friday by a U.S. District Court judge.
Sandra Lucille Crist, 49, will spend 46 months behind bars, and then be subject to supervised probation for three years, according to a sentence handed out by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman.
Crist pleaded guilty Sept. 28 to using the mails in "furtherance of a scheme to defraud investors," according to assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith.
The judge also noted that Crist had not paid income taxes since 1990 and ordered her to comply with all outstanding tax obligations.
The court will hold a hearing March 29 to determine the amount of restitution Crust will be ordered to pay the victims of the scheme, Coopersmith said.
According to court records, Crist and her company, SanMar &Associates, were in the business of "hard money lending." That’s a term that refers to the lending of funds at higher-than-market interest rates to borrowers who cannot qualify for conventional financing. At the same time, those borrowers put up real estate or other property for collateral.
Coopersmith alleged that Crist defrauded investors by falsely promising them that their investment funds would be placed in such hard-money loans and other business ventures.
Other investments included a Canadian bank debenture investment and a company called Thermecontainers Inc.
However, Coopersmith said Crist used investors’ money for other purposes and didn’t disclose that to them. She converted the money for personal use, or paid other investors who demanded interest payments and the return of their principle, Coopersmith said.
The money was supposed to be placed in investments in Washington, Arizona, California, Guam and Canada.
In some instances, court records say, Crist provided investors with fraudulent documents, such as forged deeds of trust, to make investors believe their money was secure.