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Ex-salesman sentenced for bilking $1.8 million from investors

Published December 18, 2007 at 4:08 p.m.
Updated December 18, 2007 at 4:08 p.m.

A former salesman who bilked $1.8 million from investors who included some of the best-known businessmen in Denver was sentenced to 12 years in prison today.

Adelbert Bassford, 53, faced nearly 400 years in prison after a Denver jury convicted him on multiple charges of racketeering, theft, forgery and securities fraud.

But while Denver District Judge Catherine Lemon rejected his request for probation, she said justice wouldn't be served by putting Bassford in prison and "throwing away the key."

Lemon said she was disappointed that during Bassford's 20 minute statement to the court, he expressed no remorse for the harm he caused to investors.

"I had hoped to hear some remorse other than for himself," she said. "It's clear that Mr. Bassford doesn't get it, that he has done anything wrong."

The sentence calls for 12 years of supervised economic crime unit probation after he gets out of prison.

Bassford bilked investors who gave him money for several ventures, including Autobucks, a customer loyalty program that never got off the ground.

His victims included some of Denver's best-known business people — car dealers "Dealing Doug" Moreland, Mike Naughton and the owners of Ralph Schomp dealerships and Hyde Park Jewelers. Bassford persuaded Moreland to invest $300,000 in the program. Naughton invested $50,000; Lisa Schomp and her husband invested $50,000.

Under the Autobucks plan, customers who bought a car at a participating dealership would receive an Autobucks card, accumulating points that could be applied to discounts on future vehicle purchases.

"We trusted him and he violated it and he should have to pay for it," said Moreland.

Mike Mailin said Bassford's crimes were calculated form the start.

"This was planned from day one," he said. "He's made a fool of us and it would be a shame if he makes a fool of the court system."

Defense attorney Darrel Campbell and several of Bassford's friends asked for probation so that Bassford could pursue a new business and repay investors who lost money.

"I'm sorry that anyone lost any money," Bassford told the judge. "I can make it right, if given the opportunity. I'm not a bad person. My sole goal was to build a business, make it successful, sell it and let the investors reap the benefits with me."

Prosecutor Joe Morales said Bassford is a "crafty, conniving and deceptive" man who would "cheat, steal, swindle and lie" to get money.

In 14 years as a prosecutor, Morales said, "I've never seen anyone as sneaky and devious as the defendant. He's in a class by himself.

Morales said Bassford demonstrated a pattern of filing for bankruptcy, "leaving a path of debt and destruction behind. He thinks he's smarter than everyone else. His past is one of hurting people, leaving people in debt, begging for payment."

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