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July 1, 2013

Prison sentence issued in rainforest fraud

GREENVILLE — A state district judge has made sure a Rockwall man will be thinking about the rain forest during the first weekend of June for the next decade.

The Texas State Securities Board reported Michael D. Alexander was convicted last month of one indictment alleging securities fraud of $100,000 or more and one indictment alleging theft of property of $100,000 or more, for selling shares in a non-existent timber-harvest operation along the Amazon River.

Alexander was alleged in the indictments to have offered for sale or sold shares in Ecowood Recuperadore De Texas and Ecowood Resources International Inc. to three individuals between Aug. 30, 2007 and April 9, 2008.

Alexander was sentenced June 6 to 10 years in state prison on each charge and was ordered to pay restitution of $175,000 to the three investors.

But 49th District Court Judge David Rakow of the 49th state District Court, to stress the restitution part of the sentences, sent Alexander to jail the evening of June 7 and released him the morning of June 10. The judge said Alexander will spend the first weekend of each June in jail to remind him of what will happen if he does not pay the restitution during the next 10 years.

Texas State Securities Board enforcement attorneys Dale Barron, Alexis Goldate, Tina Lawrence and Travis Iles prosecuted the case in cooperation with the Rockwall County District Attorney’s Office.

Alexander was the CEO of the purported logging company. He told investors they would profit when Ecowood was sold, although Alexander held no licenses to harvest timber from the Amazon. Instead, prosecutors claimed, Alexander spent investors’ money on two mortgages, private school tuition, construction of a swimming pool, restaurant charges and trips to Disney World in Florida and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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