Auburn couple sentenced after fraud convictions

SEATTLE (AP) — An Auburn couple who defrauded thousands of people out of more than $30 million were sentenced to jail Monday.

Bernard Ross Hansen was sentenced to 11 years and Diane Renee Erdman to 5 years. A judge ordered them both to pay more than $30 million in restitution, KING5 reported.

Hansen, the former president and CEO of the Northwest Territorial Mint, was convicted of 14 federal crimes, including wire fraud and mail fraud. Erdmann was found guilty of 13 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud.

Prosecutors increased sentencing recommendations for Hansen and Erdmann to reflect an 11-day manhunt after they failed to show up for their initial sentencing hearing.

When the couple were arrested on the Olympic Peninsula at the end of the search, they had three weapons loaded in their vehicle, according to court records.

The couple defrauded about 3,000 of their clients while running a bullion business, the Northwest Territorial Mint, with offices in Auburn and Federal Way.

Both men used client money to expand the business and pay for personal expenses, prosecutors said. Money from new customers was used to reimburse old customers. More than 2,500 paid for orders or made bullion sales or trades that were never executed or refunded, resulting in a total loss of more than $25 million.

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