From the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Montana:

Richard William Brooks, a 78-year-old man from Hamilton, was sentenced to five years of probation for a fraudulent scheme that defrauded investors in Hamilton and Billings of over $700,000. U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich announced the sentencing, which also includes an order for Brooks to pay $722,808 in restitution.

Brooks pleaded guilty to wire fraud in January as part of a plea agreement. The government recommended a probationary sentence and requested an aggressive payment schedule for restitution due to Brooks' available disposable income. U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters ordered Brooks to pay $3,000 per month to two victims.

According to the Court

The fraudulent scheme, which began in 2016, involved Brooks claiming that his daughter-in-law was awaiting a large inheritance that required legal fees to be released. Using intermediaries, Brooks convinced victims to provide money with the promise of high returns. He insisted on cash payments and lied about the inheritance being under seal when questioned about non-payment or lack of documentation.

Brooks' deception continued until February 2021, when law enforcement interviewed him. He claimed he intended to repay the money and promised documentation related to a settlement for his exposure to Agent Orange. However, Brooks never provided any materials and eventually ended communication with authorities.

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Victims of Brooks' scheme faced severe consequences. One victim lost his business and life savings, while another endured threatening calls, displacement from her home, and the need to sell treasured items to survive. "He did more than steal our money. He stole our peace," a victim stated in court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus prosecuted the case, and the FBI conducted the investigation.

Montanans Advised To NOT Travel To These 19 Places

The United States Department of State has four levels of advisories: exercise normal precautions, exercise increased caution, reconsider travel and do not travel. These 19 destinations are currently under a Level 4: DO NOT TRAVEL advisory, so plan your travels accordingly.

Gallery Credit: Nick Northern


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