Former Theater Owner Tony Rand, Five Sons Guilty of $110 Million in Scams

by George Waldon  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

A version of this article originally appeared in Arkansas Business on Aug. 29, 2011. It is being republished as part of Arkansas Business' 30th anniversary issue. You can access the digital edition for free here.

Twenty years ago, W.A. “Tony” Rand was convicted in Little Rock federal court of defrauding lenders who bought into his aspirations of building a 400-screen movie theater chain.

The North Little Rock businessman churned $17 million through his Rand Theatres operation to feed his family’s taste for the good life — crimes described as the largest fraud committed by an individual convicted in the Eastern District Court of Arkansas.

A nearly seven-year stretch in prison apparently served only to inspire a vastly larger interstate scheme from Texas. This gambit involved Rand, now 70, and his five sons swindling hundreds of oil and gas investors of more than $110 million. Some suspect their schemes at times resembled a plot line in a zany 1968 movie “The Producers.”

The family members, some of whom were estranged, operated several sophisticated scams to rake in the necessary cash to enjoy the trappings of multimillion-dollar success.

Investors from all over unwittingly supported the Rands in lavish style.

Rand and his youngest sons, Mark, Greg and Bill, accomplished their fraud through Aspen Exploration Inc. of Plano, Texas.

While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact date the criminal enterprise began, the indictment of Tony, Greg, Mark and Bill handed down in May 2009 indicates that it was in full swing by December 2005.

Mark Rand, 45, who will be sentenced on Aug. 31, signed a plea agreement a year ago admitting to three counts of securities fraud. After Mark folded, so did the others.

In a January plea agreement with U.S. attorneys in Dallas, his father admitted guilt to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of securities fraud, while brother Greg, 47, acknowledged one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of securities fraud, and Bill, the youngest brother at 41, copped to three counts of securities fraud.

Tony, Greg and Bill agreed to pay eye-popping restitution of $99.7 million and forfeit their ill-gotten treasure. Tony and Bill are scheduled to report to prison on Aug. 31; Greg’s judgment did not include a specific date to report.

A sampling of their booty includes: Greg’s 2006 Sunseeker Predator yacht with a 1,500-horsepower engine; Mark’s 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, classic guitars (two Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters from 1960 and 1965), art (including a Picasso drawing), jewelry and fine wine; Tony’s Jamali painting, 2005 Ferrari and 2007 Mercedes; and $850,000 from the sale of Bill’s lake house on Eden Isle in Heber Springs.



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