A group of investors is suing Utah, alleging the state failed to supervise a convicted felon on parole who defrauded them out of $27 million, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Richard Ames Higgins, 63, formed Madison Real Estate Group in 2005 after serving a prison sentence for fraud. Despite multiple convictions, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole failed to enforce conditions of his parole, which included having his employment approved by a parole officer and a prohibition on handling other people's money, charges the lawsuit.
“We hear repeatedly from Utah officials decrying Utah's reputation as the nation's 'fraud capital,' ” says the lawsuit by attorney Marcus Mumford. “This action seeks to hold the state responsible for its own acts and omissions in allowing one of the more notorious and recent Utah frauds.” Mumford said the state was negligent in not supervising Higgins and also didn't respond to a letter demanding compensation, thereby waiving any immunity protections from lawsuits. The people who filed suit told the state in 2008 that Higgins may have violated his parole, and it was revoked. He was released again in March 2010.