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Kalispell man sentenced to prison for mineral lease fraud scheme; firearms possession

Posted: 5:33 PM, Feb 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-01 14:41:28-05

GREAT FALLS – A Kalispell man, who was previously convicted of a felony, was sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison on Wednesday for illegally possessing firearms and for a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors who gave him money for oil and gas leases and artwork, according to U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris sentenced John Kevin Moore, also known as Kevin Moore, 62, to a total of 10 years and five months in prison and to three years of supervised release. Judge Morris also ordered $2,222,817 restitution and a $1,926,725 forfeiture.

In the fraud case, a jury convicted Moore in an August 2018 trial on all 21 counts in an indictment, including 11 counts of wire fraud, nine counts of money laundering and one count of false statement to a federal agent.  In the firearms case, Moore pleaded guilty in September 2018 to being a felon in possession of firearms.

In the fraud case, prosecutors presented evidence that Moore set up two companies, Big Sky Mineral Resources, LLC, in 2014, and Glacier Gala, in 2012, and used them to solicit money from investors by purporting to buy oil and gas leases and to buy and sell lucrative artwork.

Instead, prosecutors presented evidence that Moore used investors’ money to pay off earlier investors and to pay for personal expenses, including payments on multi-million-dollar properties.

To convince investors to give him money and to provide a sense of comfort about their investments, Moore would reference his wealth and connections with influential people, prosecutors said.

Moore received from investors more than $2 million, based on false claims he made regarding the mining of oil and gas and minerals and the sale of artwork, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say when seeking money through Big Sky Mineral Resources, Moore claimed the funds would be used to buy leases and for mining activities in Montana and Arizona and that there was little to no risk. The investment would result in large returns in a short time frame, ranging from 30 days to a few months.

Moore gave some investors in Big Sky Mineral Resources checks and instructed them not to cash the checks until a later date, prosecutors said. The checks bounced when various investors attempted to cash their checks.

When soliciting funds for Glacier Gala, Moore represented he could turn a profit by buying, flipping and storing high-end art. When he received investments for Glacier Gala, Moore kept the money, failed to provide the art as promised and failed to return the art in his possession.

Prosecutors also presented evidence that Moore funneled money from Big Sky Mineral Resources through Glacier Gala to make it look like the money originated from the sale of a painting, when in fact, the money came from investors in Big Sky Mineral Resources.

Moore returned some of the money to investors after they raised concerns about the legitimacy of Big Sky Mineral Resources. Other times, rather than return the money, Moore promised to repay investors through alternative means and then failed to do so.

The fraud scheme ran from about April 2013 until September 2016 in Great Falls and Kalispell.

In the firearms case, Moore, having been convicted in 2003 of mail fraud and barred from possessing firearms, possessed numerous firearms in Glasgow, Kalispell and elsewhere from about November 2015 until the spring of 2017.

In a recording with a confidential informant, Moore said, “I have about 200 guns hidden. They can’t touch me being in possession. They just can’t do it.” Moore then showed the informant the firearms, which law enforcement later identified and photographed. The firearms ranged from shotguns to semi-automatic rifles.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Weldon and Timothy Racicot prosecuted the cases, which were investigated by the FBI, IRS and the Montana State Auditor.