A federal court jury on Wednesday ruled that the government can keep assets seized from Hood River businessman James G. Cole.
The jury, in a verdict delivered Wednesday (Nov. 13), agreed after a week of testimony in Portland that the assets were a result of mail and wire fraud.
The case, which went to trial Nov. 4 in U.S. District Court in Portland, stemmed from an April 2011 raid by federal agents of Cole’s home and businesses in Hood River.
At that time, Cole owned the Big Gym fitness center, ASN/Maxam Nutraceutics and Sonic Health Systems LLC. Cole has sold Big Gym in the intervening two years. He still owns ASN/Maxam, which makes and sells a variety of nutritional supplements, and Sonic Health, which distributes a device called the TurboSonic.
The government has requested a permanent injunction to stop Cole from continuing to make and sell those products. Investigators say benefit claims in labels and marketing materials are not supported by any scientific testing or regulatory authority.
In a separate case, a federal grand jury in early September indicted Cole on four counts of falsifying asset information to avoid paying back income taxes, and falsifying income tax returns. Cole pleaded not guilty on Oct. 4, and was released on his own recognizance after being required to surrender his passport. Trial is scheduled for Dec. 10.
After government agents in 2011 seized Cole’s bank accounts, gold bullion and other assets, the U.S. attorney’s office filed a civil case to retain the assets. Cole contested the basis of the claim, in an effort to retrieve the assets.
Those assets, according to court documents, included:
- $24,277 seized from a Key Bank accounty
- $57,620 seized from a U.S. Bank account
- $120,482 in equity in a condominium in Lakeport, Calif.
- The $17,500 value of a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck
- 61 gold bars of varying weights and values
- 28 Krugerrand gold coins, 26 U.S. Liberty gold coins, and one Canadian gold coin, of varying denominations, and two Canadian silver coins
The verdict also affirmed the government’s claim that Cole committed mail or wire fraud in the sale of vibration machines bearing the brand label TurboSonic.
The government claimed assets totaling $62,359 in cash from two U.S. Bank accounts that they said were proceeds from the sale of TurboSonic machines.