A Jefferson man is accused of defrauding investors, and Hall County Fire Services started working on the case with the FBI after a fire they believe to be arson.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Winston Wade Turner, 48, allegedly “caused and attempted to cause wire transfers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Turner was charged with mail and wire fraud in a Tuesday, April 24, federal indictment. He pleaded not guilty.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Turner allegedly told investors beginning in July 2015 he was a broker for “North American Bio Fuel” based in Florida.
“Turner encouraged his victims, former clients from his previous employment at Metlife Securities, Inc. and Prudential, to invest funds in North American Bio Fuel,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In conversations with investors and later through a website, Turner represented that the company was an ‘up and coming company’ already producing biofuel, at a time when it was in fact only a shell company.”
Turner’s attorney Jeff Ertel did not return a request for comment Friday, April 27, from The Times.
The victims listed in the indictment were residents of Barnesville, Blue Ridge and Tiger.
Hall County Fire Services Capt. Zachary Brackett said the department participated in the investigation following a February 2016 house fire.
Brackett and the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not explain how the fire is connected to the fraud investigation.
Firefighters responded to a fire at a 2,500-square-foot home on Winding Rose Trail near Union Church Road in South Hall. The house, valued at $300,000, was a total loss.
“The Hall County Fire Marshal has determined this fire to be intentionally set and has been working in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation since that determination,” Brackett said.