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Case 6:15-cr-00417-MC

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


DISTRICT OF OREGON
EUGENE DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

v.

INDICTMENT

MICHAEL S. HOLCOMB,
GARY L. HOLCOMB,
JENNIFER L. CHALMERS, and
KRISTEN S. VAN BREEMEN,

18 u.s.c. 1341, 1343, 1344, 1349,


1956(h), and 1957
Forfeiture Allegations
UNDER SEAL

Defendants.

THE GRAND JURY CHARGES:

Beginning no later than 2008 and continuing through in or about 2012, defendants
Michael S. Holcomb, Gary L. Holcomb, Jennifer L. Chalmers, and Kristen S. Van Breemen,
solicited individuals to invest in their insurance premium financing businesses and accepted
investments in their insurance premium financing businesses, Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of
Portland. To entice investors, defendants Michael S. Holcomb, Gary L. Holcomb, Jennifer L.
Chalmers, and Kristen S. Van Breemen, among other things, falsely promised investors their
investments were safe, secure, and earning high rates of return. Rather than invest the money as
promised, defendants Michael S. Holcomb, Gary L. Holcomb, Jennifer L. Chalmers, and Kristen
S. Van Breemen diverted the money for personal use, speculative real estate projects, and to
make interest and other payments to earlier investors. Based on defendants' conduct, more than
400 investors lost more than $40 million.

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INTRODUCTORY ALLEGATIONS
At all times relevant to this indictment:
1.

Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of Portland, insurance premium financing

businesses, were founded in the 1960s and were family owned. Berjac of Oregon was located in
Eugene, Oregon, and Berjac of Portland was located in a variety of areas in the greater Portland
Oregon area, including Clackamas, Lake Oswego, and Portland.
2.

Over time, the insurance premium businesses were expanded to include Berjac of

Colorado, Berjac of Puget Sound, Berjac of Spokane, and Berjac of Washington. These
businesses were eventually sold or closed.
3.

Insurance premium financing companies provide loans to small businesses for the

purpose of paying those businesses' insurance premiums. The loans to purchase insurance are
considered short-term, low-risk loans because the financing company retains an interest in the
unused portion of the insurance premium-that is, if the business defaulted on its loan to finance
its insurance premium, the insurance policy is cancelled and the unearned portion of the
premium is returned to the financing company. To finance the loans for the insurance premiums,
insurance premium financing companies obtain capital from investors.
4.

After working at and managing Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of Portland for a

number of years, defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb, who are brothers,
became equal partners in the two businesses in 1998. Prior to that time, defendants Michael S.
Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb were partners in Berjac of Oregon, Berjac of Portland, and other
Berjac businesses and continued as partners in other Berjac businesses for a time. Defendant
Michael S. Holcomb was primarily responsible for operating Berjac of Oregon, and defendant
Gary L. Holcomb was primarily responsible for operating Berjac of Portland.

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Defendant Michael S. Holcomb graduated from Oregon State University with a

bachelor's degree in Business Administration, and, beginning in 1996, he became a Director for
Pacific Continental Bank Corporation.
6.

Defendant Gary L. Holcomb graduated from the University of Oregon with a

bachelor's degree in Sociology.


7.

In or about 1994, Peter R. Snook, the managing partner of Berj ac of Washington,

was convicted of operating Berj ac of Washington as a Ponzi scheme from at least 1987 through
1991.
8.

In or about 1995, defendant Kristen S. Van Breemen, defendant Michael S.

Holcomb's daughter, began working for Berjac of Portland as the office manager and eventually
managed the day-to-day operations.
9.

In or about June 1996, the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities

sanctioned defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb for securities fraud because
they failed to disclose material facts to investors in Berjac of Oregon, including the fact that
Berjac of Oregon was purchasing real estate for purposes of resale.
10.

In or about 2000, defendant Jennifer L. Chalmers, defendant Michael S.

Holcomb's daughter, began working for Berjac of Oregon as the office manager and eventually
managed the day-to-day operations.
11.

In or about August 2012, the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate

Securities issued Cease and Desist Orders to defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L.
Holcomb, alleging defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb had been selling
unregistered securities for more than 15 years related to investments in Berjac of Oregon and
Berjac of Portland.
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On August 31, 2012, defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb

merged Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of Portland and filed for bankruptcy.
13.

In 2013, Michael J. Tumock was convicted of operating Bridge Premium

Financing, formerly known as Berjac of Colorado, as a Ponzi scheme from 2002 through 2012.
Defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb were partners with Tumock in Berjac of
Colorado until 2004, when Tumock purchased the business outright.
14.

Century Bank, Umpqua Bank, US Bank, and Mountain West Bank of Helena are

financial institutions under 18 U.S.C. 20 and 31 U.S.C. 5312.


COUNT ONE
(Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud)
(18 u.s.c. 1349)
15.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations are incorporated

16.

Beginning at an exact date unknown, but not later than in or about January 2008,

herein.

and continuing through on or about August 31, 2012, in the District of Oregon and elsewhere,
defendants Michael S. Holcomb, Gary L. Holcomb, Kristen Van Breemen, Jennifer Chalmers,
(hereinafter defendants) and others, known and unknown, knowingly and willfully conspired,
combined, confederated, and agreed with each other and with others, known and unknown, to
commit mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1341 and wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C.
1343.
MANNER AND MEANS AND SCHEME TO DEFRAUD
17.

Defendants and others, known and unknown, used the following manner and

means to carry out the conspiracy and scheme to defraud:

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Defendants, and others on their behalf, solicited investors with representations

that, as insurance premium financing businesses, Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of Portland
offered safe and relatively high-return investments and that the businesses were doing well.
19.

Based on defendants' representations about the relatively low-risk nature of the

insurance premium financing business, the safety of the investment, the stability of Berjac of
Oregon and Berjac of Portland, and the rates of return, individuals invested their money with
defendants, Berjac of Oregon, and Berjac of Portland.
20.

Throughout the scheme, defendants mailed quarterly statements to investors that

showed high rates of return, knowing that the quarterly statements contained false
representations, knowing that the quarterly statements misrepresented that investors had earned
interest on their investments, and knowing that Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of Portland were
insolvent and were unable to repay investors.
21.

Defendants induced investors to invest in Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of

Portland, to retain their investments in the businesses, and to forbear withdrawing some or all of
their investments from the businesses through quarterly statements showing constant and
consistent increases in the investors' account balances.
22.

Defendants continued to solicit investors although they knew Berjac of Oregon

and Berjac of Portland were insolvent and failed to disclose to investors the true financial status
of the insurance premium financing businesses.
23.

Defendants exercised control over all investor funds and used those funds as if

they were their own funds without the knowledge or authorization of investors.

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Defendants failed to disclose to investors that they had obtained and used lines of

credit from financial institutions in order to prop up Berj ac of Oregon and Berj ac of Portland and
to pay investors.
25.

Defendants failed to disclose to investors that they had diverted the investors'

money for unauthorized uses, including defendants' personal expenses, defendants' vacation
house, payments on lines of credit, and speculative real estate projects.
26.

Defendants failed to disclose to investors that they had used money provided by

new investment money to pay individuals who had invested earlier and to make interest
payments to earlier investors.
27.

Defendants failed to disclose to investors that Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of

Portland suffered millions of dollars in losses on speculative real estate projects.


28.

Defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb failed to tell investors

they had been investigated and sanctioned by the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate
Securities for not disclosing material facts to investors about the use of their investments related
to Berjac of Oregon.
29.

Defendants took steps to actively conceal, and caused others to takes steps to

actively conceal, the existence of the conspiracy.


30.

Defendants and others caused investor money to be transferred via wire between

various accounts to facilitate the scheme to defraud and the diversion of investor money for
defendants' personal use.
31.

Defendants mailed, and caused others to mail, investors and potential investors

materials regarding their investments or potential investments in Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of
Portland.
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Defendants sent emails, and caused others to send emails, regarding the alleged

investments in Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of Portland.


33.

Defendants continued to accept investments in Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of

Portland into August 2012, the month they filed for bankruptcy, knowing that the businesses
were insolvent and that they could not honor the investments.
34.

Defendants failed to disclose to investors the ever-widening gap between the

amounts they owed investors and the value of the insurance premium financing portfolio, that the
insurance premium financing businesses had been declining, and that the insurance premium
businesses' financial condition was poor.
35.

Defendants failed to disclose to investors that Berjac of Oregon and Berjac of

Portland were insolvent and acted as a Ponzi scheme-that is, the insurance premium financing
businesses had not generated sufficient returns from which to pay interest and redemptions to the
investors. In 2012, the insurance premium financing businesses' portfolio totaled approximately
three percent of the amount owed to investors-that is, defendants' portfolio was approximately
$1.3 million, yet they owed investors more than $40 million.
36.

Based on defendants' fraudulent conduct, more than 400 investors lost more than

$40 million.
All in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349.
COUNTS TWO THROUGH TEN
(Mail Fraud)
(18 u.s.c. 1341)

37.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations and paragraphs

Seventeen through Thirty-Six of the Manner and Means and Scheme to Defraud of Count One
are incorporated herein.
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On or about the dates set forth below in each Count, in the District of Oregon and

elsewhere, defendants and others, known and unknown, for purposes of attempting to execute
and executing the above-described material scheme to defraud and for obtaining money and
property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, and
omissions of material facts, knowingly caused the following items to be sent and delivered by the
United States Postal Service or other commercial interstate carrier:

COUNT

DATE

DESCRIPTION OF EXECUTION

November 18, 2011

July 19, 2011

October 18, 2011

December 14, 2011

May 22, 2012

June 4, 2012

June 8, 2012

9
10

June 30, 2012


August 13, 2012

Check #2174 for $40,000, an investment in Berjac of Oregon, was


mailed to the Berjac of Oregon office in Eugene, Oregon.
A letter containing representations about investing with Berjac of
Oregon was mailed to an investor in Eugene, Oregon.
Check #1174 for $30,000, an investment in Berjac of Oregon, was
mailed to the Berjac of Oregon office in Eugene, Oregon.
Check #134 for $140,000, an investment in Berjac of Portland, was
mailed to the Berjac of Portland office in Portland, Oregon.
Check #830753 for $67,540.66, an investment in Berjac of Portland,
was mailed to the Berjac of Portland office in Clackamas, Oregon.
Check #51900136 for $62,000, an investment in Berjac of Portland,
was mailed to the Berjac of Portland office in Clackamas, Oregon.
A letter claiming $62,000 had been deposited in an investor's
investment account was mailed to an investor in El Cajon, California.
A quarterly statement was mailed to an investor in Eugene, Oregon.
A letter accepting a $450,000 investment and an accompanying
promissory note for $450,000 was mailed to an investor in Portland,
Oregon.

All in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1341.

COUNTS ELEVEN THROUGH SEVENTEEN


(Wire Fraud)
(18 u.s.c. 1343)
39.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations and paragraphs

Seventeen through Thirty-Six of the Manner and Means and Scheme to Defraud of Count One
are incorporated herein.

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On or about the dates set forth below in each Count, in the District of Oregon and

elsewhere, defendants and others, for purposes of attempting to execute and executing the abovedescribed material scheme to defraud and for obtaining money and property by means of
materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, and omissions of material
facts, knowingly caused the following communications via interstate wire:
COUNT

DATE

DESCRIPTION OF EXECUTION

11

August 12, 2011

A $50,000 transfer via wire to an account at US Bank.

12
13

January 3, 2012
February 28, 2012

14
15

April 16, 2012


June 20, 2012

16

July 19, 2012

17

August 10, 2012

A $215,000 transfer via wire to an account at US Bank.


An email regarding a request for a withdrawal from an
investor.
A $436,049.34 transfer via wire to an account at Wells Fargo.
A $10,500 transfer via wire to an account at Mountain West
Bank of Helena.
An email to an investor regarding that status of the investor's
investment.
A $450,000 transfer via wire to an account at Century Bank.

All in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343.


COUNT EIGHTEEN
(Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering)
(18 u.s.c. 1956(h))

41.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations and paragraphs

Seventeen through Thirty-Six of the Manner and Means and Scheme to Defraud of Count One
are incorporated herein.
42.

Beginning at an exact date unknown, but not later than in or about January 2008

and continuing through on or about August 31, 2012, in the District of Oregon and elsewhere,
defendants and others, known and unknown, did knowingly combine, conspire, and agree with
each other and with others, known and unknown, to knowingly engage and to attempt to engage
in monetary transactions by, through, or to a financial institution, affecting interstate and foreign
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commerce, in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 that was derived from
a specified unlawful activity (mail and wire fraud) in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1957.
MANNER AND MEANS OF THE CONSPIRACY
43.

The manner and means used to accomplish the objectives of the conspiracy

included, among others, the following:


44.

Beginning at an exact date unknown, but not later than in or about January 2008,

and continuing through on or about August 31, 2012, defendants and others, known and
unknown, engaged in the scheme to defraud set forth in Count One of this indictment, earning
more than $40 million from that scheme.
45.

Defendants took steps, and caused others to take steps, to conceal the existence of

the conspiracy.
46.

Defendants engaged in or caused the financial transactions alleged in Counts

Nineteen through Twenty-Four, each involving more than $10,000 of proceeds from the material
scheme to defraud described in Count One.
All in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1956(h).
COUNTS NINETEEN THROUGH TWENTY-FOUR
(Money Laundering)
(18 u.s.c. 1957)
47.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations and paragraphs

Seventeen through Thirty-Six of the Manner and Means and Scheme to Defraud of Count One
are incorporated herein.
48.

As set forth in each count below, in the District of Oregon and elsewhere,

defendants and others knowingly engaged in and attempted to engage in a monetary transaction,
by, through, and to a financial institution, in and affecting interstate commerce, in criminally
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derived property that was of a value greater than $10,000 and was derived from a specified
unlawful activity (mail and wire fraud):
COUNT

MONETARY TRANSACTION

19

On or about December 15, 2011, defendants caused $150,000 to be transferred from


account #1044304 to account #102850 to pay down a line of credit at Century Bank.
On or about November 17, 2011, defendants caused check #3809 for $100,000 to be
issued to repay an investor.

20
21

On or about February 14, 2012, defendants caused $80,000 to be transferred from


account# 1044320 to account # 102110 to pay down a line of credit at Century Bank.

22

On or about June 4, 2012, defendants caused $85,000 to be transferred from account


# 1044304 to account # 102850 to pay down a line of credit at Century Bank.
On or about July 23, 2012, defendants caused check #4503 for $20,000 to be issued to
repay an investor.

23
24

On or about August 13, 2012, defendants caused $425,000 to be transferred from account
#1044304 to account #102850 to pay down a line of credit at Century Bank.
All in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1957.
COUNT TWENTY-FIVE
(Bank Fraud)
(18 u.s.c. 1344)

49.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations and paragraphs

Seventeen through Thirty-Six of the Manner and Means and Scheme to Defraud of Count One
are incorporated herein.
50.

In or about August 2012, in the District of Oregon and elsewhere, defendants

Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb knowingly devised and intended to devise a scheme
and artifice to defraud as to material matters and to obtain monies and funds owned and under
the custody and control of Century Bank, an FDIC insured institution, by means of material false
and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, and omissions of material facts.
51.

It was part of the scheme that defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L.

Holcomb, when applying for a $1 million line of credit for Berjac of Portland at Century Bank,
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knowingly misrepresented the finances and financial status ofBerjac of Portland, knowingly
failed to disclose that they intended to merge Berjac of Portland and Berjac of Oregon in August
2012, and knowingly failed to disclose that they planned to file bankruptcy on behalf of Berjac
of Portland and Berjac of Oregon at the end of August 2012.
52.

On or about August 29, 2012, in the District of Oregon, defendants Michael S.

Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb, for purposes of executing and attempting to execute a material
scheme to defraud and to obtain monies and funds owned and under the custody and control of
Century Bank by means of material false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises,
and omissions of material facts, knowingly executed loan documents for the $1 million line of
credit with Century Bank.
53.

On or about August 30, 2012, defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L.

Holcomb caused Century Bank to advance them $300,000 from the line of credit. On August 31,
2012, defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb filed bankruptcy on behalf of
Berjac of Portland and Berjac of Oregon.
All in violation of 18 U .S.C. 1344.
COUNT TWENTY-SIX
(Money Laundering)
(18 u.s.c. 1957)

54.

Paragraphs One through Fourteen of the Introductory Allegations, paragraphs

Seventeen through Thirty-Six of the Manner and Means and Scheme to Defraud of Count One,
and paragraphs Fifty through Fifty-Three of Count Twenty-Five are incorporated herein.
55.

On or about August 30, 2012, in the District of Oregon, defendants Michael S.

Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb knowingly engaged in and attempted to engage in a monetary
transaction, by, through, and to a financial institution, in and affecting interstate commerce, in
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criminally derived property that was of a value greater than $10,000 and was derived from a
specified unlawful activity (bank fraud), namely, the issuance of check #3551 for $60,000.
All in violation 18 U.S.C. 1957.

FIRST FORFEITURE ALLEGATION


(18 U.S.C. 981(a)(l)(C) and 28 U.S.C. 2461(c))
56.

Upon conviction of one or more of the offenses alleged in Counts One through

Seventeen of this indictment, defendants shall forfeit to the United States pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
981(a)(l)(C) and 28 U.S.C. 2461(c), any property constituting or derived from proceeds
obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the violations, including but not limited to a money
judgment for a sum of money equal to the amount of property involved in the conspiracy.
57.

If the above-described forfeitable property, as a result of any act or omission of

defendants:
(a) cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence;
(b) has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party;
(c) has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court;
(d) has been substantially diminished in value; or
(e) has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without difficulty;
the United States of America shall be entitled to forfeiture of substitute property pursuant to 21
U.S.C. 853(p), as incorporated by 18 U.S.C. 982(b).

SECOND FORFEITURE ALLEGATION


(18 U.S.C. 982(a)(l))
58.

Upon conviction of the offenses alleged in Counts Eighteen through Twenty-Four

of this indictment, defendants shall forfeit to the United States pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(l),
any and all property, real or personal, involved in the money laundering offenses and all property

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traceable to such property, including but not limited to a money judgment for a sum of money
equal to the amount of property involved in those offenses.
59.

If the above-described forfeitable property, as a result of any act or omission of

defendants:
(a) cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence;
(b) has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party;
(c) has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court;
(d) has been substantially diminished in value; or
(e) has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without difficulty;
the United States of America shall be entitled to forfeiture of substitute property pursuant to 21
U.S.C. 853(p), as incorporated by 18 U.S.C. 982(b).

THIRD FORFEITURE ALLEGATION


(18 U.S.C. 982(a)(2)(A))
60.

Upon conviction of the offense alleged in Count Twenty-Five of this indictment,

defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb shall forfeit to the United States pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(2)(A) any and all property, real or personal, involved in the money
laundering offenses and all property traceable to such property constituting or derived from
proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the violation, including but not limited to a
money judgment for a sum of money equal to the amount of property involved in that offense.
61.

If the above-described forfeitable property, as a result of any act or omission of

defendants:
(a) cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence;
(b) has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party;

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(c) has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court;


(d) has been substantially diminished in value; or
(e) has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without difficulty;
the United States of America shall be entitled to forfeiture of substitute property pursuant to 21
U.S.C. 853(p), as incorporated by 18 U.S.C. 982(b).

FOURTH FORFEITURE ALLEGATION


(18 U.S.C. 982(a)(l))
62.

Upon conviction of the offense alleged in Count Twenty-Six of this indictment,

defendants Michael S. Holcomb and Gary L. Holcomb shall forfeit to the United States pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(l), any and all property, real or personal, involved in the money laundering
offenses and all property traceable to such property, including but not limited to a money
judgment for a sum of money equal to the amount of property involved in those offenses.
63.

If the above-described forfeitable property, as a result of any act or omission of

defendants:
(a) cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence;
(b) has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party;
(c) has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court;
(d) has been substantially diminished in value; or
Ill
Ill
Ill
Ill
Ill

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(e) has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without difficulty;
the United States of America shall be entitled to forfeiture of substitute property pursuant to 21
U.S.C. 853(p), as incorporated by 18 U.S.C. 982(b).
Dated this

_}2_ day of November 2015.


A TRUE BILL.

Presented by:
BILLY J. WILLIAMS
Acting United States Attorney

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