Branson company ordered to pay more than $2m

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Branson company ordered to pay more than $2m
« on: March 29, 2004, 14:37:28 »
Branson company ordered to pay more than $2 million restitution, fines

A southwest Missouri company accused of defrauding investors has been ordered to pay more than $2 million in fines and restitution.

U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney this week found Ozark Ticket and Travel and its owner, Lee Larscheid, liable for nearly $1.8 million in "investor funds that defendants wrongfully received."

In addition to $22,550 in prejudgment interest, Larscheid and his business must each pay $120,000 in civil penalties.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attorneys sued Ozark Ticket and Travel and other defendants last year, accusing them of defrauding at least 600 investors out of more than $28 million across the country.

"The fines were exactly what we were hoping for," said Chicago-based SEC attorney Christopher Veatch. "It was a judgment in which we got full satisfaction of our claim against Lee Larscheid and Ozark Ticket and Travel."

"Lee has settled the case, and agreed to pay back money he received from parties in Florida," said John Appelquist, Larscheid's attorney.

Business operations will remain intact while restitution is made, he said.

SEC officials claimed four businesses, including Branson City Limits and Ozark Ticket and Travel, and eight people raised at least $28 million from investors since September 2000.

The defendants offered and sold securities nominally structured as hotel timeshare rental interests, the commission said.

The federal case is still pending against other defendants.

Florida-based Resort Hotels also is named in the suit. Other defendants in the case include Nevada-based Universal Financial Leasing; Patrick L. Ballinger, 55, and Dennis R. Weaver, 54, both of Jackson, Tenn.; Kosta S. Kovachev, 51, of Lake Worth, Fla.; Benny G. Morris, 46, of Palm Harbor, Fla.; Linda M. Sears, 50, of Seminole, Fla.; and Todd R. Walker, 44, of Tampa, Fla.