September 19, 2012

Maine man charged with bilking friends of almost $1M

The FBI says Garrett Denniston, 62, persuaded at least five victims to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in his business dealings, guaranteeing them high yields for their money.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A Boothbay Harbor man accused of bilking friends out of more than $900,000 in an investment scheme was scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Portland Wednesday morning on charges of wire fraud.

The FBI says Garrett Denniston, 62, persuaded at least five victims, some of whom had known him for almost 30 years, to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in his business dealings, guaranteeing them high yields for their money.

One couple gave him $300,000 between 2005 and 2008 but when they tried to get their money back, Denniston made excuses and then last year sent an email saying he had lost all their money and apologized for his dishonesty, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the court. Another couple invested $400,000 with similar results, the court papers said.

Special Agent David Ford, based in Connecticut, where Denniston lived and conducted his alleged scheme, says Denniston spent the investment money on country club memberships, a car loan, his mortgage, apartment rent, airfare, hotels, restaurants and furniture and gave thousands to family members. He also paid at least $75,000 to a Boothbay Harbor construction company that a witness said was remodeling Denniston's home there, the court papers said.

From 2009 to June of this year, Denniston continued to solicit investments from other people with similar promises, the court papers said. An arrest warrant for him was issued out of Connecticut on Tuesday.

Denniston faces a fine of up to $1 million and prison of up to 30 years. Prosecutors have asked that Denniston be held pending trial because they are afraid he might flee to avoid prosecution.

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