FBI arrests Auburn couple sought for skipping sentencing in $30M gold scheme
The FBI has arrested a fugitive Auburn couple who fled on the eve of their sentencing last month after being convicted of operating a Ponzi-like scheme through the now-bankrupt Northwest Territorial Mint in Federal Way, defrauding thousands of investors out of more than $30 million.
Seattle FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd said Bernard Ross Hansen, 61, and his partner, 49-year-old Diane Renee Erdmann, were arrested Tuesday afternoon at a motel near Chimacum, outside of Port Townsend, after a hotel employee recognized them from photographs that had been published in the media.
Hansen, president of the mint, and Erdmann, who was a manager of the business, were scheduled to appear April 29 in U.S. District Court after a jury convicted them of mail and wire fraud in a gold bullion scheme that prosecutors say victimized 3,000 investors.
Hansen had been convicted of 14 federal felonies. Erdmann, described in court documents as the mint’s “vault manager,” faced sentencing on 13 counts. They failed to show up for their sentencing hearing, and the FBI issued warrants for their arrests, saying they were traveling in a small car with their dog.
The mint – which made coins and medallions and bought, sold and stored precious metals – by 2012 didn’t have enough assets to cover customer orders, according to the couple’s indictment. Prosecutors allege Hansen and Erdmann started using the investments from new customers to pay money owed to older customers in an…