Tigard coin dealer accused of fraud

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— Lawrence H. Heim, 72, of Tigard, Oregon, was indicted Thursday on 13 counts of mail fraud and wire fraud. If convicted, Heim faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 on each count.

Heim was the President and owner of U.S. Gold & Silver Investments, Inc. (USGSI) in Portland, Oregon. He also operated a website for USGSI, and was the host of a radio program, where he advertised the sale of gold and silver coins. The indictment alleges that Heim defrauded customers of USGSI, who were located across the country, by convincing them to purchase large amounts of gold and silver coins.

He accepted payment in the form of checks sent through the U.S. mail or through wire transfers made to Heim’s bank account in Portland, Oregon. The indictment also alleges that Heim took the USGSI customers’ funds, but never delivered the coins nor provided refunds. After authorities received complaints from USGSI customers in early 2011, Heim shut down the company’s website. Losses to USGSI customers are more than $1.7 million.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Claire M. Fay.

A criminal indictment is only an allegation and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.