Scott K. Brett, a Spokane businessman who was charged with wire fraud by federal investigators more than two years ago in a case involving lottery winnings by an Oregon widow, was acquitted Friday by a federal jury in Richland.
Brett was accused of making false promises about investment opportunities for the woman and then failing to pay back about $855,000 she invested, according to court records. Brett had transferred the money into another account, said his attorney Scott W. Johnson, and successfully argued to the jury that he wasn’t responsible for the loss of funds.
“Scott never had the intent to defraud anybody,” Johnson said. Brett argued at trial that he never had direct access to the money, and that another investor based in Texas had been the one to make the failing investments that led to a loss of the woman’s winnings. “He did his best, and Scott Brett got scammed.”
The alleged victim won $18.2 million with her husband in an Oregon Megabucks Jackpot lottery in 2003, according to Brett’s 2016 indictment.
Brett originally had pleaded guilty to the charge, but later successfully petitioned a federal judge for a new trial after he argued he hadn’t received adequate counsel. Brett had been facing four to five years in prison after pleading guilty to the crime.
Johnson said Friday’s result showed that Brett was not “a con man” as investigators had suggested.
“He never was what they were trying to say he was,” Johnson said.
Brett maintained a home on Five Mile Prairie, and in the late 1990s was involved in a potential land deal that would have prevented development of a large subdivision. He was also involved in a tech company that sought to construct a “green industrial park” in a suburb of Nashville in the 2000s, a deal that also fell through after local lawmakers scrutinized the deal.
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