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Quatloos! > Investment Fraud > HYIP & Bank Debentures > EXHIBIT: Omega Trust & Trading > Dove Doo-Doo > Letters

Omega Trust & Trading HYIP Exhibit

("Clyde may look like a local electrician, but he's really only one of
6 or 8 people in the world capable of pulling off this $97 Quintzillion
trade which is now being held up by the European bankers . . .")

July 17, 2001 - Mattoon Journal Gazette

Turner was Hood's 'right-hand man,' says Chris Engel

City Editor

URBANA - Chris Engel on Monday became another government witness who described Jim Turner as a close associate of Clyde D. Hood who had to know details about the fraudulent Omega Trust and Trading program.

The owner of a now-defunct local construction business said he wanted to stop depositing checks for Hood and stop participating in monetary transactions and business deals with Hood. But Hood's Omega operation kept Engel's financially struggling businesses going, so Engel reneged on a promise to cooperate with authorities in 1999, before he was one of 19 people indicted last August. Eighteen, including Engel, have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of one or more charges.

Engel also became the first witness to mention the name of Coles County Sheriff Ron Scott, who hired Turner as a correctional officer. Scott's name came up in the Omega rumor mill from the time the indictments were handed down last August, but he's not been mentioned in court matters until Engel brought up Scott's name in passing during testimony in Turner's federal criminal case.

Engel testified on Monday that Hood gave Turner $14,000 to purchase a motorcycle that Engel said he understood was for Scott. Turner later reported that money missing and Hood replaced it with another $14,000 cash.

In a phone interview after Engel's testimony, Scott said he was told by Turner that Turner could get him a loan for a motorcycle. But Scott said he didn't accept.

Scott said he has a motorcycle on which he made a down payment and financed the balance through the Midwest America Federal Credit Union.

"I do my banking through banks," Scott said, adding he's like most other people and makes a monthly payment on the vehicle to a financial institution.

Scott said Turner didn't say where the loan would come from, but Scott assumed it was through Hood, who at the time was being investigated by local, state and federal authorities.

Engel also testified that Arlene Diamond, who last month was convicted of a role in the Omega conspiracy, asked Turner to deliver to Scott's office anti-government "paperwork" that Diamond said would help "protect" co-conspirators from prosecution.

Turner is accused of money laundering conspiracy and conducting a monetary transaction with proceeds of illegal activity. The prosecution said it plans to finish presenting its evidence sometime today. It has 11 possible witnesses, though not all are likely to be called. The 11 mentioned as possibilities include Scott; Brian Garbe; Jeff Schnibben; Hood's wife, Patricia; Barry Bullington; Natalie Richardson; an unidentified representative of the Coles County assessor's office; Mike Moschenrose; Sal Samora; Bryan Boes; and IRS agent Vonnie Hinesley.
Defense attorney John Gadau said he plans to call Turner; Turner's wife, Brenda; and Hinesley as defense witnesses. The case could conclude this week.

Engel described in detail for more than five hours his role in the Omega program in which Engel said about $6.3 million went through some of his 14 bank accounts. His construction business grew from about six employees to 72 employees with Hood's backing.

Omega investors were told to expect $5,100 on a $100 investment in an offshore investment program in about nine months. No one received the promised return. Authorities say about 10,000 people worldwide were defrauded of more than $20 million since 1994.

Engel has pleaded guilty to a count of money laundering conspiracy, and has a new agreement to cooperate with investigators.

"He had me under his thumb, so to speak," Engel said of Hood, who asked Engel to deposit checks from Omega investors. "I didn't have any choice. I was stupid ... but I was so far behind the eight-ball financially. ... I just felt like a puppet."

Engel said he got about 15 construction projects through Hood since 1997.

Engel said he was at Hood's office about once every day, and he frequently saw Turner there. Turner heard discussions about Omega in the office, Engel said.

Turner concedes he and Hood were close friends, and that he did jobs for Hood. But Turner denies any role in Omega.

Engel said Turner and Hood called each other "buddy" and "spent quite a bit of time together."

Engel at one point testified that "Jim (Turner) and I and Phil (Haskell) were some of his (Hood's) closest associates." Engel said he felt threatened by Turner because "Jim was Clyde's right-hand man."

Engel described the mood at the Omega office as laid back in 1998 when things were going well. But by the summer of 2000, when all of the principals knew of a federal grand jury investigation, the mood was "pretty intense," he said. The office blinds were often pulled and there was a secret knock used to gain access. "It wasn't a real comfortable atmosphere," Engel said.

Engel also testified about Turner instructing Hood how to use a system designed to detect if a phone was tapped.

Engel said on another occasion Turner delivered to him money from Hood to help make payroll and pay expenses at his construction businesses.

And Engel said he once wrote Turner a $9,500 check from his construction company to Turner's landscape business, and that Turner requested the transaction be reported to the IRS so that Turner could show a profit on the landscape business. Turner's lawyer later suggested the money was for work done by Turner on the $600,000 Advantage Information Technology business Engel said he built in the Coles Business Park with Omega funds.

Engel also described being present when Hood took more than $155,000 cash from a floor safe at the home of Hood's daughter to pay for a home Turner bought on Western Avenue. Unlike Hood, Engel didn't recall Turner being present when the money was taken from the safe. Engel said Turner was present when he brought a cashier's check to Hood to pay for the home.

On cross-examination, Engel confirmed that a check he received for the Bluebird Bakery that he earlier testified was for about $20,000 actually was for $159,800.

Regarding Neva McKibben, the Mattoon woman who testified she put all her retirement savings into Omega, Engel said he was stunned that the check Hood gave him from McKibben came from her personal funds. Typically Hood didn't take money from people he knew in Mattoon, Engel said.

"When I heard it (about McKibben's check) my mouth hit the floor," Engel said, saying he assumed Hood gave McKibben the money for the check he deposited.

Return to Omega Trust & Trading HYIP Exhibit

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