Fake broker sentenced to 6 years for swindling millions from plant employees


by Adam Walser


Posted on December 14, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 14 at 7:50 PM

(WHAS11) -- A man who stole millions from his father-in-law's co-workers and members of his church by pretending to be an investment broker was sentenced on Friday.

He stole retirement money from more than 20 families connected to the Colgate Palmolive plant in Southern Indiana.

Jonathan Leber, who is a high school drop-out, convinced 21 families to invest an average of more than $100,000 per victim in his fraudulent investment scheme.

These weren't rich people.

In fact, the vast majority were hourly workers from the former Colgate plant, who entrusted Leber to invest all of their life savings.

As dozens of victims emerged from the federal courthouse Friday, most had little hope they would see any of their hard-earned money again.

The man who admitted stealing, it, Jonathan Leber, was sentenced to six years in prison for stealing more than $2 Million.

“It's over $400,000 from us,” Jim Hook said, who said he planned to pay off his home and take trips with the money.

“Now it’s gone,” he said.

Most of Leber’s victims were his father-in-law's co-workers at the now-closed Colgate plant in Clark County.

The hourly employees took money from their 401-K plans and invested it with Leber, a high school drop-out who tried to pass himself off as a licensed broker.

“There were many weeks when he worked 16 hour days and worked Saturday and Sunday, just for us to have a nice retirement,” Iris Hampton, whose husband worked at the plant for more than two decades, said. “And he thought it was OK to take it.”

Leber told the court he lost all of the money.

Some was invested in a failed gun range in Barren County.

Some was apparently paid out to other investors.
“The paper trail of our money shows that he took $100,000 of it and gave it to our daughter-in-law to pay back money he stole from her. So a lot of it is robbing Peter to pay Paul. But there's still quite a lot of there he can't really account for,” Hampton said.

Tom Coffey is Leber's attorney.

“Jonathan's always been a church going person. He doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, doesn't gamble. He's got no criminal history. He's just a very good person, a very good family man who made a mistake,” Coffey said.

Victims found other ways to describe him to the judge... words like liar, sociopath and thief.

And even though Leber read an apology statement, most didn't believe it was sincere.

“He needed to stand up and face us and say ‘I am so sorry for what I've done and how I've destroyed your life," Hampton said.

Leber was given the longest sentence available under recommended sentencing guidelines, because the judge found his crimes "especially egregious and horrific."