A former Rockdale resident pleaded guilty on Friday to selling unregistered promissory notes as securities, bringing to a close a case that has been going on for several years.
The charges against 61-year-old Ulys Randall "Randy" Riner stem from when he was owner and president of Express Factors, a factoring company that was originally based in Covington in the late 1990s.
The business involved the factoring of government contracts. Riner would purchase accounts receivables of businesses that were performing government contract work at a discounted price. He then received the full payment from the government agency once the contracts were fulfilled.
The investments in Express Factors – most of which came from family and close friends of Riner’s – were in the form of promissory notes that would mature at different times. The investments ranged from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The promissory notes however, were not registered with the state and Riner reportedly lied to his investors about how their money would be repaid.
According to a statement made in 2004, Riner said that when one of his largest clients filed for bankruptcy his business began to fail as well. The investigation into Riner began in 2004 by the Secretary of State’s office after Express Factors filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2002 and at least two of his investors filed civil suits against him at that time seeking more than $1.5 million.
According to a press release from the Secretary of State’s office, "Instead of ‘factoring’ government contracts, Riner allegedly used investors’ money to advance unsecured funds to a number of businesses without the investors’ consent. Once these businesses began to fail, Riner allegedly used funds from new investors – also known as a ‘Ponzi Scheme’ to conceal the losses. Several investors lost their life savings."
In 2005 the case against Riner was turned over to the Newton County District Attorney’s Office.
Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson Jr., accepted the negotiated plea and sentenced Riner to 20 years on probation, the first three to be served in prison. According to District Attorney Ken Wynne, if Riner can pay $125,000 in the next 60 days he can avoid prison time, however. He is also required to spend the next two years on work release and to pay restitution in excess of $2 million at $2,000 a month. If Riner comes into money during that time, such as winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance, that money is required to go toward restitution.