Former U.S. Attorney Sentenced for Telemarketing Scams

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A federal judge in Concord, NH, sentenced Monday a former U.S. attorney to two years in prison for his involvement in a series of telemarketing scams that sold bogus investment products.

After his arrest in 1996, John A. Field III pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy and spent the next three years assisting federal investigators by working undercover, which resulted in his receiving a light sentence. He also was fined $20,000. Field is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Aug. 18.

Field was a U.S. attorney in West Virginia from 1972 to 1977 and then served as director of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Division of Enforcement from 1977 to 1980. He used his law enforcement knowledge, however, to help a network of "boiler rooms" sell fraudulent investments by telephone. In addition to promissory notes for fraudulent securities, the boiler rooms also sold fake commodities futures and duped consumers into investing in wireless cable rights. Consumers lost $16 million through operations in which Field was involved.

"It was perfect for a guy like Field," said Michael Gunnison, the assistant U.S. attorney in Concord. "That was his area of expertise. He could steer them into getting a slap on the wrist or a small fine, and that would be his signal to move onto something else."

The boiler rooms funneled money into foreign bank accounts and used Field's attorney trust account to protect their funds from being seized.

A U.S. attorney in New Hampshire began investigating Field in 1994 and arrested him in a sting operation in 1996 with the cooperation of investigators in New Jersey.

"He agreed to throw in the towel and cooperate," said Gunnison. "For about three years he was cooperating undercover for the government. He made hundreds of tapes and was used in operations as far as Samoa."

His cooperation led to the arrest of Marcus Dalton, who then also agreed to cooperate with authorities. Dalton worked on an elaborate sting operation, dubbed Operation Busysignal, which also involved the FBI. In the sting, Dalton wore a hidden microphone while he pitched the idea of a bogus foreign currency investment to telemarketing boiler rooms around the country. He also supplied the boiler rooms with a list of prospects, all of whom were retired law enforcement agents who had volunteered for the operation. Operation Busysignal resulted in nine arrests.

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