Denver money manager Sean Mueller, 41, threatened suicide last week after sending his investors notes indicating that his statements were falsified and that the money was largely gone.
Mueller managed about $120 million for wealthy and famous people in Colorado and Arizona, through a firm he founded in 2002 called Mueller Capital Management LLC in Greenwood Village, Colo. Local police intervened in his suicide attempt and he was taken to a local hospital.
Many of his victims came from the Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver, where he played golf and gained the trust of influential people who touted him as an investment whiz.
He did not have an impressive background as a money manager, but he is alleged to have plied his victims with fake performance records and approached them through people they trusted.
Blaine Rollins, who managed one of America’s best known mutual funds, The Janus Fund, was Mueller’s director of research. Rollins, a cancer survivor who is a director for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, has hired an attorney who told me this morning that Rollins invested a substantial amount of money in Mueller’s fund and doesn’t know what happened to it. Rollins provided research for the firm but was not involved in trading and didn’t see the books, the attorney said.
Colorado State Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph has won a court order freezing Mueller’s assets on Tuesday, alleging that Mueller was running a Ponzi scheme.
In his notes, Mueller indicated that nobody knew about the fraud but him, reminiscent of Bernie Madoff. He even said that two partners of a local accounting firm, Bill Saetveit and Bill Schaefer of a Bailey Saetveit & Co. PC did not know about it either.
Saetveit and Schafer did not return calls or emails. Neither did Mark Weakley, an attorney in Boulder, for powerhouse law firm Holm Roberts and Owen LLP. He is listed as legal counsel on a 2002 offering memorandum for one of Mueller’s funds. The memorandum also lists Charles K. Dahlke as Mueller’s accountant, who also did not return calls.
So far, victims of the scheme are keeping quiet, too, but Joseph reports that three of them had at least $20 million apiece in Mueller’s funds.
It is often difficult to get wealthy people who’ve been ripped off to come forward. Many of Bernie Madoff’s victims never came forward, prefering to forgo any attempt at recovery to spare themselves embarassment. Many of the investors at Enron never said a peep.
This is much like rape. Women often choose not to report rape out of embarrassment, even though the one who should be embarrased is the perpetrator. Victims should never be made to feel this way, and keeping quiet doesn’t serve justice.
In Mueller’s case, there appears to be some money left, so it is likely some of his victims will step forward in the days to come, aiding regulators and law enforcement officials and filing lawsuits.
Below are links to columns I’ve written as the story has evolved, and court documents detailing the alleged fraud.
Click here to read my piece in The Wall Street Journal.
Click here to read my column about Mueller’s suicide attempt.
Click here to read my column about Mueller’s past.
Click here to read my column about Rollins.
Click here to read Colorado Security Commissioner Fred Joseph’s motion to appoint a receiver for Mueller’s assets.
Click here to read Exhibits 1-4, including some of Mueller’s notes.
Click here to read Exhibits 5-7, including more of Mueller’s notes.