A Fruitport man will go on trial in a federal court next month after a deferred prosecution agreement was reversed in a $2.2 million alleged marketing scam.
Christopher Ostrowski and co-defendant Dennis Tubbergen were indicted in August 2016 for conspiracy and multiple counts of wire fraud.
Several trial delays were approved over the past three years, and then a deferred prosecution agreement was approved this past January.
New information in the case led Chief Judge Christopher Conner of the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to reverse the order and reschedule the trial, according to a court order published in July.
The new trial date is Oct. 7 in the Harrisburg court. The court order emphasized that there would be “no further continuances.”
The two men operated a business, known as GTBK Marketing. According to the indictment, Tubbergen and Ostrowski, through GTBK, orchestrated a marketing scheme involving the sale of a “patent-pending” financial system known as the Immediate Legacy Program. The program supposedly allowed wealthy individuals to make immediate charitable contributions without incurring costs or taxes by using a system that involved development of a limited liability company and purchase of annuities and life insurance policies. The program claimed “at the death of the donor, the full amount of the annuity used to pay the donor and fund the charitable donation would be paid back to the person’s estate by the life insurance policy.”
Tubbergen, as CEO of GTBK, marketed the program extensively to financial planners and insurance agents across the country. Ostrowski, a GTBK sales representative, likewise traveled the nation putting on live presentations and pitching the program to potential investors.
The indictment alleges that Tubbergen and Ostrowski made multiple false and fraudulent representations to encourage potential investors to purchase the program and its various products. Those who signed up for the program paid GTBK, on average, between $35,000 and $50,000, according to court papers.
The two men entered not-guilty pleas to the charges.
The overturned deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) called for GTBK to waive indictment, accept responsibility for the fraudulent conduct and pay $300,000 restitution over a three-year period. Once that period concluded, the federal government could move to dismiss charges against GTBK with prejudice. The agreement also contemplated dismissal of criminal charges pending against Tubbergen and Ostrowski.
After the DPA was approved, the court learned that GTBK ceased operations in 2011. Then, on a single day in July, around the time the agreement was being negotiated, Tubbergen filed annual statements for GTBK for 2011 through 2018. The same day he also filed a “certificate of restoration of good standing.”
In reversing the DPA, the judge said, “We cannot, in good conscience, toll the speedy trial clock for the prosecution of a business entity that ceased operations nearly a decade ago and which will allegedly be operated, going forward, under a different name in affiliation with other businesses owned by Tubbergen but purportedly unconnected to GTBK. Such facts belie a conclusion that the DPA is “bona fide” and “genuinely intended” to allow GTBK Marketing – not Tubbergen or some other business entity – to demonstrate its good conduct.”
In the past, Ostrowski had been involved in fundraising for the North Ottawa Community Health System and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spring Lake.