A Clemmons man indicted on multiple charges of investment fraud is now facing a $294,500 civil judgment awarded to one of his alleged victims.
Russell Joseph Mutter, 50, of Curraghmore Road in Clemmons, has 41 criminal counts, including investment adviser fraud, financial exploitation and obtaining property by false pretenses, that are all pending in Forsyth Superior Court. Indictments said that the alleged victims were clients of Mutter’s company, RJM Financial LLC, and that Mutter withdrew money from his clients’ accounts and deposited the money into his own accounts without his clients’ permission. He is also accused of falsifying documents to cover up the fraud.
One of the alleged victims is Mutter’s father, according to the indictments.
Another of his alleged victims, Phillip K. Edwards, won a $294,500 judgment in a lawsuit he filed against Mutter and Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Company. Vanguard was voluntarily dismissed from the lawsuit in June 2019, leaving Mutter as the remaining defendant. Although he was served with the lawsuit while he was in the Forsyth County Jail, Mutter never filed a written response.
Judge Michael L. Robinson of Forsyth Superior Court granted a default judgment on Dec. 19, 2019, awarding Edwards compensatory damages in the amount of $294,500. He also found that Mutter breached a contract. He did not find that Mutter committed a breach of fiduciary duty or that he committed constructive fraud. Robinson also denied a request for punitive damages.
Chris Beechler, who represents Mutter on his criminal charges, said Friday that he had not seen Robinson’s order. Mutter’s priority has been dealing with his criminal case, which could come to trial this coming fall, Beechler said.
“He’s not in any position to do anything with those cases,” Beechler said, referring to civil lawsuits that have been filed against Mutter. “It’s going to be some time before those orders can be addressed.”
James Faucher, Edwards’ attorney, said it is sad what Mutter is alleged to have done to Edwards and more than a dozen other people.
“I don’t expect that we will ever collect that amount of money from Mr. Mutter,” he said. “We were happy to obtain that amount of money as a measure of justice.”
Another judge, Stuart Albright, awarded another one of Mutter’s alleged victims, Phillip E. Boydston, a $900,000 civil judgment.
In Edwards’ case, Mutter acted as an agent of Vanguard and gained access to Edwards’ investment accounts in 2014, according to Robinson’s order. Mutter was able to transfer money out of Edwards’ account at Vanguard without Edwards’ consent or knowledge, Robinson said in his order.
As a result, Mutter withdrew $294,500 between October 2014 and January 2017. Then, Mutter deposited that money into his bank account at Allegacy Federal Credit Union, Robinson’s order said.
Robinson said that Mutter covered his tracks by providing Edwards with forged account statements. Edwards didn’t find out about the forgery until Dec. 7, 2017, and he didn’t discover that Mutter had been taking money out of his account until Jan. 2, 2018.
Mutter was initially indicted on allegations that he defrauded Edwards, Boydston and another man, Walter R. Whiteman. Mutter was accused of taking a total of $904,000 from the men’s retirement accounts.
At a hearing in May 2018 to set bond, Shannon O’Toole, a special agent with the N.C. Secretary of State, said Mutter made a bet that would pay off if the market collapsed. It didn’t work out that way, and he lost the men’s money, O’Toole and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill said at the hearing. To cover his tracks, he created fake documents that he would send to the three men.
“I truly believe, in his mind, he thought the market would correct,” O’Toole said at the hearing. “He was swinging for the fences and he was waiting for that.”
Mutter is in the Forsyth County Jail with bond set at $5 million. The N.C. Secretary of State has a permanent order against him that prohibits Mutter and his company from conducting business and recruiting new clients.