BRENTWOOD — A Salem man who’s been trying to get rid of some 2,000 printer boxes piled up around his property will now have to spend at least six months in jail after he was convicted in an investment scheme that left his friend $50,000 in the hole.
Michael Bates, 44, was sentenced Friday to a year in jail, but six months of the term was deferred for two years and may not be imposed if he stays out of trouble.
In April, a Rockingham County jury found Bates guilty of a felony securities fraud charge that accused him of soliciting a friend to invest in a business between October 2015 and March 2016 and made various misrepresentations, including that there was at least one other silent partner involved in the investment and that he had fronted the victim’s initial investment, which were statements that he knew weren’t true.
According to Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Haggar, the victim, who trusted Bates and developed a friendship, lost $50,000 in the scheme.
“This was done willfully. This was done for his own personal gain. He should be punished,” Haggar told Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling when she recommended he go to jail for a year.
In addition to his jail term, Bates must also pay $50,000 in restitution to the victim and isn’t allowed to engage in the sale of securities or receive monetary investments from third parties during his probationary period.
The criminal case resulted from an investigation that began in February 2015 when the state’s Bureau of Securities Regulation received a complaint from different investors alleging that Bates was investing money on behalf of others and wasn’t providing information about where the funds were going.
While defending himself in the criminal case, Bates was also mired in a mess with the town of Salem over the boxes littering his property at 45 Maclarnon Road containing Epson inkjet printers that at one point were part of an ink cartridge recycling operation.
Bates apologized to his friend, who attended the sentencing.
“I will pay him back every dime,” he said.
Bates told the court about his personal problems that included splitting up with his wife, a custody battle over his two children, the fight with the town of Salem over cleaning up the printer mess and other trash, and how he was even homeless for a short period.
“I’ve always been a hard working family man who always gives back,” he told the judge.
Bates also said his Salem property is expected to be auctioned off next week.
“I’ve learned many lessons,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Securities Regulation is investigating three other complaints involving alleged victims who claim they lost thousands of dollars in other investments with Bates, according to Eric Forcier, a staff attorney with the agency.
Defense lawyer Nicholas Howie said Bates denied the allegations in those complaints.
With the jail time hanging over Bates, Judge Wageling ordered that he could remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction.