July 15, 2010
CONTACT: Snake River Alliance
Andrea Shipley, executive director
208-344-9161 (w); 208-514-8713 (c)

AEHI’s Former Financier Strikes Fraud Plea Agreement

The president of a venture capital firm identified by would-be nuclear reactor developer Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., as the source of $150 million in investments in AEHI’s Idaho nuclear scheme and who was charged with securities fraud has reached a deal with the Utah Attorney General’s office that will clear his record after he completes probation, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Shane Baldwin, CEO of Silverleaf Financial, struck a deal with Utah prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted theft, but those pleas will be set aside if he finishes probation without committing further infractions, the newspaper reported on June 22. Silverleaf contacted the Snake River Alliance to notify that the plea agreement had taken place and asked the Alliance to update its last report on the fraud charges.

AEHI had identified Silverleaf as a likely source of the massive cash infusions the company will need in order to develop a nuclear reactor in Idaho. AEHI touted its relationship with Silverleaf after the failure of another financier, Houston-based Powered Corp., which also has gone out of business. Those two firms were among others that AEHI claimed would help bankroll its Idaho reactor scheme. To date, none have come through with the tens of millions of dollars AEHI would need to get its project off the ground. Other financiers that AEHI identified have also failed to produce, including New York-based Cobblestone Financial Group.

Baldwin was initially charged with two fraud counts and two counts of theft. His record will be cleared if he completes probation and makes restitution. That restitution apparently will not include repayment of a reported $25,000 provided to Silverleaf by AEHI.

Here is the Tribune’s article of June 22 regarding Silverleaf and its president, Shane Baldwin:

SilverLeaf CEO accepts deal to settle theft charges

By Paul Beebe
The Salt Lake Tribune
June 22, 2010 12:12PM

Dwight Shane Baldwin, charged with securities fraud and theft in March, has reached a deal with the Utah Attorney General’s Office that will clear his record if he completes probation without committing more infractions.

Baldwin, CEO of Salt Lake City-based SilverLeaf Financial, entered a guilty plea in abeyance to two amended counts of attempted theft, both third-degree felonies. Utah officials had originally charged the 29-year-old businessman with two fraud counts and two counts of theft, all felonies.

He allegedly deceived two investors with promises of huge returns and other bogus claims that convinced them to each put $100,000 into GarargeCo Toys, a California company controlled by Baldwin, according to the Utah Division of Securities.

In return for his admission of guilt to the reduced theft charges and promise to repay Nicole Lindley and Matthew Lee, prosecutors accepted Baldwin’s plea in abeyance April 8. The securities division will conduct a hearing Thursday to settle a parallel administrative case against Baldwin.

“In the interest of justice, we felt this was appropriate because he paid the restitution in full up front, and he is on good-conduct probation for 18 months,” assistant attorney general Charlene Barlow said last week.

Keith Woodwell, director of the securities division, which investigated Baldwin, said he was satisfied with the settlement.

“I’m very happy that the investors have gotten their money back because that is not the typical outcome. Most often, investors are lucky to get back 5 to 10 cents on the dollar,” Woodwell said.

For his part, Baldwin said he pleaded guilty to the attempted theft charges in order to put the episode behind him. He said he might have avoided the criminal charges if he had been willing to settle a lawsuit Lindley and Lee brought against him in November 2008. The parties eventually reached a settlement in April, around the same time the criminal charges were resolved.

“This lawsuit was the first time I had ever been sued, and I could have settled this, and should have, in hindsight. [I] could have settled it for $50,000” before the charges were filed, Baldwin said.

Woodwell said part of the reason Baldwin was charged in March was that he had withheld material information from Lindley and Lee that might have discouraged them from investing money in GarageCo.

In an interview, Baldwin did not express remorse for his actions but said he regrets his stubbornness. In a document outlining terms of the lawsuit settlement, Baldwin and other defendants associated with his firm continued to dispute some of the plaintiffs’ claims.
“I don’t see them as victims,” said Baldwin, whose company now buys up distressed bank loans from federal regulators and other sources.

Neither Lindley nor Lee could be reached for comment.

Baldwin contends he did not know Lee or Lindley until he was introduced to them by a third party. Lindley and Lee brought the GarageCo investment opportunity to him, he said. On their recommendation, Baldwin purchased 60 percent of GarageCo and then sold 20 percent to Lindley and Lee for $200,000.

The deal did not work out because GarageCo wasn’t able to execute its business plan successfully, Baldwin said.
Woodwell, the securities division director, said the case was not based on the viability of GarageCo.’s business plan.

“We don’t pass judgment on business plans or whether or not the company was making money. Our interest is that promoters who are selling securities tell the truth when they are soliciting money from investors,” Woodwell said.

“In this case, we allege that Shane Baldwin did not tell the truth and that he failed to disclose material information that should have been disclosed before the investment was made,” he said.

© 2010 The Salt Lake Tribune