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Canadian Lunar Embassy Operator Sentenced

Two-year prison sentence, $500,000 fine for defrauding bank, investors; firearms charges dropped as part of plea bargain agreement.

LONDON, Ontario /LUNAR JOURNAL/ 12 MAY — Lisa Fulkerson has been sentenced to two years in penitentiary for defrauding a local bank and individual investors of more than $1 million.

Lisa Fulkerson

Lisa Fulkerson, Canadian Lunar Embassy operator, was sentenced to two years in prison for fraud.
 

Fulkerson has also been ordered to make restitution of more than $476,000.

Fulkerson — who sold plots of land on the moon as part of a business enterprise involving the Nevada-based Lunar Embassy — pleaded guilty to seven charges of fraud over $5,000 involving her Internet company and lunar property.

Another 15 allegations, including firearms charges were dropped. She is scheduled to appear on May 20 to set a date for trial for an assault charge.

The 33-year-old Chatham, Ontario, woman said: "I'm very sorry" before being sentenced in the Ontario Court of Justice on May 11.

Judith Laprise, whom Fulkerson bilked out of about $265,000, said she doubted Fulkerson's sincerity.

Laprise, who taught Fulkerson's children, says she expects to lose her house because of the fraud. She had attended most of Fulkerson's appearances at court.

"I don't think I'll ever see a penny," Laprise told reporters.

Fulkerson served about three months in jail before her plea last week.

Fulkerson's lawyer, Dave Jacklin, says Fulkerson was "robbing Peter to pay Paul" when she committed the frauds.

Jacklin said that Fulkerson was a successful business woman who got in "over her head" financially.

"She borrowed money from people who were charging usurious rates," Jacklin told the court. "She is extremely remorseful, but she found herself between a rock and a hard place."

Talking to reporters after the case, Jacklin said that any money Fulkerson had gained from the frauds went to pay off "loan sharks." Jacklin said Fulkerson should be able to pay the restitution when she gets out of prison.

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"She was a very successful business person," Jacklin added.

Fulkerson had previously pleaded guilty to failing to appear in court on Nov. 12. She was sentenced to time already served. She was captured in Las Vegas in January, selling hand cream at a mall outside a casino. She has been in jail since that time.

Crown Attorney Fred Creed told the court Fulkerson had devised what he called a "kiting scheme, the most complicated one I've seen in four years prosecuting frauds."

Creed said Fulkerson made fraudulent daily payments to a bank account in an attempt to keep ahead of her creditors. A forensic audit showed that between October 2000 and November 2001, Fulkerson made about $43 million in deposits, but only about $2 million was legitimate.

Creed also told the court the Bank of Nova Scotia in Chatham, which lost about $627,000 in the scheme, wanted individual investors to be paid off first.

One of the frauds involved a local contractor who gave Fulkerson $300,000 to cover costs of buying American rights to the lunar sales business and for advertising. When they tried to get their money back, Fulkerson gave them a phony check certified from a bank in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The franchise rights were purchased from the Lunar Embassy, a novelty moon deed company based near Reno, Nevada. Fulkerson dubbed her enterprise "Moonland Registry" and served as the "ambassador" for Lunar Embassy in Canada.

Lunar Embassy is operated by Dennis Hope, who contends that he owns the moon as the result of a dubious claim he supposedly filed in 1980. Hope had gambled with Fulkerson in Las Vegas before she became a fugitive.

Chatham-Kent Police Service Detective Constable Doug Friesen told reporters that the investigation into Fulkerson is closed.

"We have no evidence there are any more victims out there," said Friesen. He conceded there could be more people who were simply too embarrassed to come forward.

In accepting the joint submission on sentencing, Judge Mark Hornblower told Fulkerson she had breached the public's trust.

"This was an egregious breach of trust," Hornblower told Fulkerson. "People were placing their reliance on you as a respected member of the business community that you would treat their investments with respect."

From Lunar Journal staff and wire reports

SOURCES: Emediawire, Toronto Star, Las Vegas Sun, Chatham This Week

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