Fugitive couple captured in Hadlock sentenced for federal crimes

Pair had three loaded guns in vehicle at time of arrest

Posted 6/8/22

The two fugitives from justice who were arrested in May after they were found hiding out in the Hadlock Motel had three loaded firearms in their car when they were arrested, officials with the U.S. …

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Fugitive couple captured in Hadlock sentenced for federal crimes

Pair had three loaded guns in vehicle at time of arrest

Posted

The two fugitives from justice who were arrested in May after they were found hiding out in the Hadlock Motel had three loaded firearms in their car when they were arrested, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

Bernard Ross Hansen, 61, the former president and CEO of Northwest Territorial Mint, and Diane Renee Erdmann, 49, had earlier been found guilty of mail and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The pair were sentenced to prison Monday.

Hansen was given 11 years in prison for 14 federal felonies.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said Hansen was in charge of a Ponzi-like scheme that defrauded 3,000 customers of more than $30 million.

Erdmann, the vault manager of the now-defunct precious metals firm, was convicted of 13 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud and was sentenced to five years in prison.

“The entire means of operation was nothing more than a fiction,” U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said at the sentencing hearing.

“You were a wrecking ball building your empire. (The victims) trusted you and had faith in the snake oil you were selling; that faith was met with manipulation and deceit,” Jones said.

Northwest Territorial Mint operated both a custom business that involved the manufacturing of medallions and other awards, and a bullion business that involved selling, buying, trading, storing, and leasing of gold, silver, and other precious metals. The company had offices in Federal Way and Auburn but declared bankruptcy in April 2016.

“Mr. Hansen and Ms. Erdmann defrauded more than 3,000 people of some $30 million — money that represents the victims’ plans and dreams: retirement, college funds, and inheritances,” Brown said.

“It is heartbreaking to hear how the fraud upended their lives and left them working longer, harder, and in deep stress to try to recover. The impact of this fraud goes beyond the significant dollar figure,” he added.

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, Hansen and Erdmann lied about shipping times for bullion, used customer money to expand the business to other states, and used customer money to pay their own personal expenses.

The pair also defrauded customers who paid the company to safely and securely store bullion in its vaults. An inventory in April 2016, however, showed that all or part of the bullion for more than 50 customers was missing from the vaults.  Federal officials said the missing bullion was worth more than $4.9 million.  

“Together, Hansen and his co-conspirator Ms. Erdmann stole decades of savings and financial security from thousands of victims who thought they were making safe investments for themselves and their loved ones,” added Donald M. Voiret, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Field Office. 

Hansen and Erdmann had been found guilty of multiple counts of wire and mail fraud after a three-week jury trial in July 2021.

The pair never showed up for their sentencing hearing in April, prompting an 11-day manhunt that came to an end after their mugshots were shown on “Most Wanted” television news segments and they were spotted by an alert motel manager in Port Hadlock.

Prosecutors increased their sentencing recommendations after the two went on the run and were subsequently captured.

“Ms. Erdmann and Mr. Hansen acquired a new vehicle, armed themselves with three loaded guns, and evaded supervision. Ms. Erdmann’s conduct shows a lack of respect for the court and the law enforcement authorities that she knew would attempt to find her,” prosecutors wrote in supplemental sentencing memos.

“Recent events have shown that Mr. Hansen also presents a danger of violence,” they added. “When he was apprehended by law enforcement in Port Hadlock, he was traveling with three loaded firearms in reaching distance of the front seat of his vehicle.”

Jones ordered Hansen to pay $33.7 million in restitution, while Erdmann was ordered to pay
$32.1 million.

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