A federal court in Washington state has sentenced a singer-songwriter to nearly four years in prison for various schemes that tricked investors into sinking nearly $600,000 in non-existent projects promising music from major artists, including Bruce Springsteen. Kasey Anderson, of Vancouver, Wash., pleaded guilty to the wire fraud schemes in August 2013, admitting he bilked eager backers between 2009-2011.
"The offense is a serious one," said U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton at the sentencing hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, where Anderson was ordered to pay $594,636 in restitution. "You let down a lot of people."
Anderson's schemes were elaborate, with one involving a fake compilation album and concert series that, he said, would support the legal defense fund for the West Memphis Three, a trio of teenagers convicted of murder in 1994, but released in 2011. To entice investors in the non-project, Anderson claimed to have agreements from well-known artists including Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty and R.E.M. He created fake email accounts for prominent music industry officials and sent emails from them to potential investors. He also forged a document that made it appear the project had already earned $1.7 million in advanced sales.
A local musician who fronted Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, Anderson also solicited investors to fund an album of his own music. He produced falsified paperwork indicating his album had already sold thousands of copies and earned $1.4 million in royalties when in fact it had earned less than $10,000.
Other schemes included falsified documents claiming involvement in another artist's album, which in fact was released years earlier, as well as a concert tour that Anderson told investors earned more that $200,000. He also sent investors forged bank statements showing large balances.
In all, the U.S. Attorney's office said Anderson had collected more than $590,000 from around 30 investors.
"I lied to myself and others, and believing those lies, I told myself consistently that whatever was going on with me … I could fix it on my own," Anderson, who says he suffers from a mental illness, wrote in a letter to the court, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "I convinced myself that it was normal."