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Securities Division > News Archive  > 2003 Press Releases > For Immediate Release: June 18, 2003 Secretary of State's Investigation Leads to Fraud Conviction in Bartholomew County

Contact: Cam Savage

Secretary of State's Investigation Leads to Fraud Conviction in Bartholomew County
Rokita applauds tough sentence for Don Pratt

Indianapolis, IN -- Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita today applauded the sentencing of convicted Indiana Securities Act violator Don L. Pratt. The decision rendered against Pratt by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann included 4 guilty verdicts for violations of the Indiana Securities Act. Mr. Pratt's sentence, announced on June 17, 2003, includes 3 years in prison and $5,500,000 in restitution. Pratt's prison sentence will be followed by 5 years of probation.

Pratt's criminal convictions are the culmination of an investigation initiated by Rokita's Office regarding Pratt's activities with Hometown Investments and Hometown Finance, firms that Pratt used to operate a "Ponzi scheme." "Ponzi schemes" work on the "rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul" principle, as money from new investors is used to pay off earlier investors until the whole scheme collapses.

The investigation revealed that Pratt and his company operated as an unregistered agent selling unregistered securities.

The Secretary of State's Office referred the case to the Bartholomew County Prosecutor's Office who under Indiana law has the authority to file criminal charges. The offices continued working together to develop the case, which ultimately resulted in the four-count conviction.

"I'm very pleased Mr. Pratt will be serving a stiff prison sentence," Rokita said. "I want to congratulate Bartholomew County Prosecutor William Nash for a job well done. The Pratt case is a perfect example of how county prosecutors and the Securities Division of my office can put criminals behind bars by working together and sharing resources, without duplicating services and efforts at the expense of Hoosier taxpayers."

I also want to congratulate my staff for their hard work in investigating this case and for their significant contributions to the conviction of Mr. Pratt. This is a remarkable accomplishment and a major step forward in our ongoing fight to protect Hoosiers and their investments."

Rokita further reminded Hoosiers to check out any investment opportunity before investing. Businesses holding themselves out to be corporations should be registered with Rokita's office, as should both investments and their sellers. Information can be verified at Rokita's website or by phone at 317.232.6576 (for corporations) or 1.800.223.8791 (for securities).