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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Maui man jailed for 27 months in $700K scam

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Maui man was sentenced yesterday to more than two years in prison after he pleaded guilty to bilking clients out of $700,000 and offering to help hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

John David Van Hove, also known as Johnny Liberty, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and placed on three years' supervised release. U.S. District Judge David Ezra also ordered Van Hove to pay $400,000 in restitution to the investors he defrauded, as well as restitution to the IRS.

In October 2005, Van Hove pleaded guilty to offering several schemes to clients, including a method to avoid paying taxes by using "common law trusts" to conceal assets and income, and offshore trusts and bank accounts. The U.S. Attorney's office said Van Hove's activities were related to a financial planning and investment business he operated on Maui.

Since 1997, Van Hove solicited clients and bilked them out of $700,000, the U.S. Attorney said. Court documents showed he made false promises and misrepresentations to the victims, including offering rates of return on their investments of up to 25 percent a month, or 300 percent a year.

But the U.S. Attorney's office said Van Hove's clients received no profits and lost their investments. Van Hove's victims were from Hawai'i, Washington, Arizona and New York, the U.S. Attorney said.

Van Hove was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2005 and arrested on May 9, 2005, in Ashland, Ore.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Osborne and Tax Division attorneys Michael Vasiliadis and Dean Secor.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.