Federal and state authorities in Virginia are holding an Arlington man on charges that he defrauded a dozen individuals of at least $650,000 in the Washington area by selling counterfeit securities forged under the name of McLean Savings and Loan Association, officials said yesterday.
Arlington police said they arrested Craig J. Oliver, 32, on Wednesday and that he was arraigned the same day on 1 count of embezzlement, 2 counts of grand larceny and 2 counts of forgery. Police said the felony charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 60 years.
Arlington authorities freed Oliver on $50,000 bond, but immediately detained him on behalf of the FBI, which Thursday issued an arrest warrant for Oliver on a charge that he broke federal law by forging securities and selling them across state lines. The felony carries a maximum penalty of $250,000 in fines and 10 years in jail.
FBI officials said Oliver will have a formal hearing Wednesday before a U.S. magistrate in Alexandria. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria, which will present the FBI's case against Oliver, said that several more hearings may follow.
Oliver, who is in Arlington jail, could not be reached by phone for comment. The D.C. law firm of Whitman & Ransom said it is representing Oliver but could make no comment because the lawyer who is handling the case, Andrew Lipps, is out of town and could not be reached.
According to FBI affidavits filed with the U.S. magistrate, and to police and FBI statements, Oliver sold at least 12 area residents what "appear to be color photocopies of a McLean certificate of deposit." The documents say Oliver told investors that he worked for McLean and would deposit their money in the thrift when, in fact, he had never worked for the thrift. Police and FBI agents said Oliver offered below-market rates.
Federal and state authorities said that they believe McLean Savings & Loan was not willingly involved in Oliver's alleged scheme and, in the words of one Arlington police detective, was "as much a victim as the individual investors."
The authorities said that so far they have not recovered any of the money the investors say they gave Oliver. They also said the list of investors and the amount of money involved could grow.
McLean Savings & Loan President John Harn said that officials of the thrift were "as shocked as anyone when we realized what was happening." He said that Oliver was a customer of the thrift until about a year ago, "when his account was terminated."
Arlington police began an investigation into Oliver's business activities late last year when they received a criminal complaint from Alexandria resident Randy E. Lee in connection with a bogus certificate of deposit of $135,000 that Oliver allegedly sold Lee. Lee could not be reached for comment.
The FBI joined the investigation when authorities received similar compliants from residents in the District and in Maryland. The FBI affidavits say that "Oliver represented himself [to investors] as an agent of McLean Savings & Loan who had a company called Jefferson Financial Services" in Gaithersburg. The FBI has obtained a warrant to search the records of Jefferson Financial.
One investor reached yesterday, Clifford Boyd of Falls Church, said he has known Oliver for most of his life and has "everything" he's worked for tied up with Oliver. Boyd, on instructions from his lawyer, would make no further comment.
The FBI affidavit says that Boyd invested $150,000 worth of certificates of deposits with Oliver.