A Columbia resident who was found guilty of defrauding investors and using money for personal use, including for a pool and surgical procedures, was sentenced in federal court Thursday.
US District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Robert Stuart Leben, 53, to 40 months of incarceration and $1.8 million in restitution to his victims for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with an investor fraud scheme, according to a news release from US Attorney Bill Nettles' office.
Officials said between 2008 and 2015, Leben controlled the Structure Finance Group, which was supposed to invest money from his clients into US Treasury fixed-income securities called "T-STRIPS."
Nettles' office stated Leben planned to purchase discounted T-STRIPS and pocket the difference between the discounted price and the face value by trading in commodities. Leben reportedly used two third-party intermediaries to handle the investments, and records obtained by the FBI showed Leben lied to investors about the balances in their accounts.
Rather than buying T-STRIPS, Leben reportedly diverted most of the money from his investors for his own use. Eleven investors lost about $2.3 million, some of which was recouped.
The investigation showed he used the money from his clients to purchase a $500,000 home, a backyard pool, $180,000 worth of landscaping, vacations, surgical procedures and financial gifts to family members.