SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A Brookings developer who was found guilty of scamming investors in a fish farm project that never happened faced sentencing Monday. However, that sentenced was delayed after his attorney objected to the number of investors and the amount of money lost to be taken into consideration.
Tim Burns was accused of scamming investors in the Global Aquaponics project out of tens of thousands of dollars. A federal jury found him guilty of all charges. Federal prosecutors identified 14 victims and the amount they lost to be considered by Judge Karen Schreier when determining prison time for Burns. Burns Attorney Mike Butler objected because some of the victims named did not testify in Burns’ trial in April. Judge Schreier reprimanded Butler for not objecting earlier in order to give the federal government a chance to call the investors in as witnesses during sentencing.
Schreier said: “I had my 20-year anniversary as a judge last week and I’ve never had an incident like this.” Schreier then postponed Burns’ sentencing.
After a year-long investigation, KELOLAND Investigates first exposed the falsehoods surrounding the project. The Global Aquaponics fish and vegetable farm was proposed for south of Brookings and Burns’ construction company was supposed to build it. That never happened. Instead, Burns used money coming in from investors and transferred them to his own business accounts.
Company founder Tobias’ Ritesman was earlier sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay back nearly $700,000 in restitution in the Global Aquaponics scheme.
Burns’ attorney Mike Butler must now file his new objections with the state within a week to give federal prosecutors a chance to respond and a new sentencing date will be set.