Sheridan, Indiana Businessman Admits to Duping Investors in Two Separate
Fraud Schemes Via Commerce Street Venture Firm
Indiana businessman has admitted to cheating investors in Iowa and Colorado out of approximately $2.3 million through two separate investment schemes.
Lowell G. Hancher (a.k.a. Bob Hancher), of Sheridan, Ind., is the founder
of Commerce Street Venture Firm, Inc., a private equity firm that purportedly
invested funds in small companies that were in the process of going public.
According to his Oct. 26 plea agreement, Lowell Hancher used Commerce Street
Venture Firm to defraud investors in a Colorado-based asphalt and general
contracting company out of $1.8 million over a five-year period. Though
he told investors their funds would be used to invest in Scott Contracting,
Inc., he actually used the money to operate his own businesses.
When investors raised concerns about their accounts, he falsely promised
that he would return their money.
At the same time, Hancher used his position as a director and audit committee
member of Cycle Country Accessories Corporation, an Iowa manufacturer,
to steal more than $500,000 from the company. To obtain the funds,
he told Cycle Country that he would take the company private through a
stock buyback. However, instead of doing as he had promised, Hancher used only a small
portion of the funds to purchase Cycle Country stock and used the remainder
for his personal purposes. He then created falsified documents to cover
up the scheme.
SEC filed civil charges against "Bob" Hancher in Jan. 2011. Though he admitted no wrongdoing at the time, he did agree
to settle the complaint for $3 million. Criminal charges were filed later.
Hancher now faces up to 45 years in prison for one count of wire fraud
and one count of securities fraud. A sentencing date has not yet been