SALT LAKE CITY – An Orem man made about $1.5 million by making generous promises on investments but instead depositing money in his personal account, according to charges filed Thursday in 3rd District Court.
Clark Smith Gardner, 54, is charged with 34 criminal counts for allegedly fooling several would-be investors between November 2011 and April 2014. He is charged with carrying on a pattern of unlawful activity and communications fraud, both second-degree felonies, and eight counts each of second-degree felony securities fraud, second- degree felony theft, and third-degree felony sale of an unregistered security.
A warrant was also issued for Gardner’s arrest Thursday.
Gardner allegedly guaranteed high rates of return to clients but used their investments to finance luxurious vacations and other personal items.
Gardner, who was licensed to sell securities in Utah before September 2014, is formally accused of promising several investors returns of between 8 percent and 10 percent related to the purported purchase of a life insurance policy.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office claims Gardner admitted to investigators and at least one investor that he “desposited the funds into his personal (bank) account and used them for personal and business expenses unrelated to the investment,” according to charging documents.
Gardner “made Ponzi payments to previous investors,” using one check made to him by a Montana woman in April 2014 totaling $243,000, the charges state.
Gardner has worked in the securities industry since 1997. He was reportedly employed by Sammons Securities Co. from 2002 to 2013 and Cetera Advisors for about five months before being terminated in May 2014.