Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced this afternoon that Paul Bateman, age 58, has pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering, admitting that he defrauded an Indianapolis investor out of $1.7 million over the course of six months in 2007. Bateman had been charged in late 2011 with his role in the operation of The Russell Foundation, along with Michael Russell and alleged co-conspirator Manuel Gonzalez, age 53. Russell entered a plea of guilty late last week…
The Russell Foundation, an Indianapolis-based organization founded in 2003 by Michael Russell, was ostensibly a religiously-affiliated nonprofit intended to provide community leadership and poverty relief. Both Bateman and Russell have now admitted that it instead served as the vehicle for roughly $1.7 million in fraudulent activity.
In admitting his guilt, the Bateman acknowledged that in early 2007, he assisted in the solicitation of $702,000 in investment money from an Indianapolis victim. The victim was told by Russell that he planned to fund the foundation by investing in ethanol production through a company called Indiana Ethanol Capital Investments. Paul Bateman was listed as president of this company, held a number of other titles related to its operation, and attended “pitch” meetings with Russell in which he urged the victim to support the ethanol investment.
Bateman allegedly accepted five checks from the victim totaling $702,000 between February and April 2007, almost all of which was deposited in Bateman’s personal bank account and spent on expenses other than the production and distribution of ethanol over the next 45 days. During this period of time, Bateman has admitted that he became aware that almost no ethanol-related activities were being undertaken by The Russell Foundation.
Bateman has also admitted that in 2007, he and his alleged co-conspirators again solicited money from the victim, successfully urging him to invest $1 million in a corporate bond for the Russell Foundation. Bateman acknowledged in court this morning that this money was spent over the course of 33 days after it was received by he and his co-defendants.
FBI press release link: click here