Wagswoofs – Garrett Elder, the Anchorage resident who allegedly defrauded individuals of millions of dollars in a scheme resembling a Ponzi scheme, appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon for his sentencing.
The courtroom overflowed with individuals who expressed how Elder’s actions had devastated their lives. Many shared how they had lost the majority of their savings to Elder, leaving them unable to pursue dreams such as owning a home or retiring comfortably.
Due to the intensity and length of the testimony, the court proceedings were unable to be concluded by the end of the day. As a result, the proceedings have been rescheduled for next week.
Numerous individuals addressed the audience for a duration of 30 to 40 minutes.
During his victim impact statement, Matt Ellison declared to the court that Garrett Elder was a serial liar.
During the trial, Christopher Cox addressed the judge and expressed that he did not harbor any anger towards Elder. However, he did mention that he believed Elder had a desire for an extravagant lifestyle that made him uneasy.
Cox stated in his victim impact statement that the desire of the accused was not just to have a good living but a lavish one.
According to the United States Department of Justice and the Alaska Division of Banking and Securities, Elder duped over 100 investors out of millions of dollars from 2016 to 2022.
At a spot on Old Seward Highway known as Tycoon Trading, LLC and Daily Bread Fund, LLC, Elder managed two businesses.
According to authorities, Elder has been accused of taking around $30 to $34 million from nearly 140 investors, primarily from Alaska. Regrettably, it is believed that he lost approximately $25 million of the funds he received.
The court proceedings were emotional, with many victims shedding tears as they addressed their grievances.
The intensity of emotions escalated into anger as both the prosecutor and defense attorney faced accusations, prompting the judge to intervene and caution against heated rhetoric.
According to the court documents, Elder utilized a portion of the funds to acquire various assets such as real estate, a boat, automobiles, bicycles, a camper, tools, and jewelry.
In May, Elder altered his plea from not guilty to guilty.
Family and friends of Elder have written letters to Judge Joshua Kindred, urging him to impose the minimum possible sentence.
According to Garrett’s older sister, Elder’s actions resulted in financial losses for her, her husband, and five out of six of their children.
Despite everything, she portrayed him as a devout family man seeking forgiveness in her letters to the judge.
Courtney Bruzas wrote that she believes Garrett did not have any bad intentions, but ended up making a poor trade and tried to recover from the loss. However, his eagerness to make things right only made the situation worse.
According to Bruzas’ letter to the judge, she expressed that Garrett is deeply remorseful and sorry for his actions. She couldn’t apologize on his behalf, but she witnessed how he suffered heartache from what he did. Garrett has lost the trust of his loved ones, and some people completely removed themselves from his life. The pain and heartache that he brought upon himself is one of the severe consequences of his actions.
During the hearing, Amy Elder, the mother of the defendant, also pleaded for mercy from the judge.
Amy Elder, who invested with the individual in question, shared how she was both personally and financially impacted by his actions. She explained that she lost funds, which will take time to recover, but as an investor, she understands that money can be gained or lost. However, she emphasized that her deeply broken trust in the person cannot be ignored. Despite this, she chooses to pursue repair and healing, and as a parent, she supports him through accountability as he works to repay his debt.
According to the Justice Department, they are proposing a prison term of seven years and three months, while the court-appointed defense attorney for Elder is requesting a five-year sentence. It is important to note that the maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years in prison.
After Elder’s recent court appearance, many of his victims expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed sentence, deeming it insufficiently strict.
On Wednesday, those same emotions resurfaced once again.
In a fiery victim impact statement lasting over 30 minutes, John Ellison expressed the devastating impact that Elder’s actions had on his life. Ellison revealed that he had lost nearly $1.4 million as a direct result of Elder’s actions, making it impossible for him to retire this December.
Ellison expressed his strong disdain towards the act by stating, “This was deceit, manipulation, and theft.”
According to the testimonies of most victims, they were acquainted with Elder through the church, and many had even referred his financial services to their loved ones and close acquaintances. As a result, these families lost their generational wealth and financial stability, leading to devastating consequences.
According to one individual, Elder utilized the “religion card” as a means of putting people at ease and increasing their willingness to invest their funds with him.
Elder faced yet another victim who asked, “How did you gain the power to destroy us?”
A victim shared that her family had a close friendship with Elder. They trusted him not only with their savings but also with their newborn baby. The woman emotionally expressed, “You were the first person we trusted to babysit our child.”
In accordance with the plea agreement that Elder signed, he has consented to relinquishing 37 acres of land, a Ford F-350 pickup truck, a camping trailer, a boat, interests in various LLCs, and funds held in nine bank and brokerage accounts.
The sentencing of Elder is set to continue on Monday. Judge Joshua Kindred expressed during Wednesday’s proceedings that due to the powerful and poignant victim impact statements, he may consider a longer sentence than the 87 months recommended by the prosecution. The emotional nature of the statements has clearly left an impression on the judge, who is taking into account all of the information presented before making a decision on the appropriate sentence.
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