Scam trial delayed again

Becky Vargo • Apr 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The trial of a Fruitport man indicted in a federal fraud case has been delayed again, this time pending plea negotiations, according to court papers.

Christopher Ostrowski is now scheduled to appear for trial in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 14, 2018. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Sept. 12.

Previously, his trial was delayed from February 2018 to April 2, 2018.

U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner signed an order on March 13 to grant a defense request for postponement.

Ostrowski entered a not-guilty plea when he was indicted Aug. 23, 2016.

Along with his former boss, Dennis Tubbergen, who is the former CEO of GTBK Marketing of Grand Rapids, Ostrowski is facing several charges relating to an investment scheme designed to match donors with charities, the indictment claims. The charges include six counts of aiding and abetting fraud by wire, radio or television; and individual counts of attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, influencing a juror or witness, and false declarations before a grand jury.

GTBK operated from May 1, 2001, until at least Feb. 19, 2013. It offered a product called the Immediate Legacy Program, which was designed to help non-profit organizations raise donations, according to the indictment. 

Ostrowski served as a traveling salesman for the firm, making presentations to financial planners and insurance agents across the country in an attempt to get them to become GTBK agents. Those interested would pay to travel to Grand Rapids for a multi-day presentation made by Tubbergen, court papers state.

Court papers noted those who attended the presentations in Grand Rapids were pressured to sign up before someone else took the position for their area. Those who signed up paid between $35,000 and $50,000 for the license to sell the product and were given a money-back guarantee. They were also told they would get training, marketing and exclusive relationships with charities and other non-profit entities, which the investors were told were already established and waiting to be contacted.

Those who purchased the program did receive some training and marketing materials, according to the indictment, but nobody received any exclusive relationship with any charity interested in using the program.

Another part of the alleged conspiracy was when purchasers complained about the false representations of the program and tried to get their money back, they found it very difficult. Their credit cards also continued to be charged, even after they complained and left the program.

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