Former Columbians get money laundering added to charges against them

Saturday, November 17, 2007 | 4:54 p.m. CST; updated 12:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Federal money laundering charges were added Friday against two former Columbia men accused of scamming $2 million from investors.

William Colwell McNeely, 76, and Craig F. Swoboda, 72, are charged in a 16-count federal indictment with money laundering, investment fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, U.S. Attorney John Wood said in a news release Friday.

The men were previously indicted on investment fraud conspiracy on Sept. 8. They were both Columbia residents at the time of the alleged crimes.

McNeely and Swoboda’s Columbia-based United Management Inc. was sued in 2006 by Attorney General Jay Nixon for using investment money for personal expenses.

According to the suit, the defendants asked investors to buy stock in a product called the “black box.” The device was supposed to let vending machine owners monitor inventory over the Internet. Despite being promoted to investors since 1999, the product never went beyond the assessment or testing stages, according to the suit.

The suit accused the defendants of using investors’ money to pay off previous lawsuits and for personal expenses. Gail Wilkerson, McNeely’s wife, spent investment money on “clothing purchased from high-end department stores,” according to the suit.

Friday’s indictment alleges that McNeely and Swoboda made misleading statements about their wealth. These statements, according to the indictment, included that “McNeely and Swoboda — and their families — had each invested large sums of money toward the development of vending machine-related inventions; that UMI was worth $150 million; that investors could get their money back if they were not happy.”

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