Ritesman sentenced to prison for fish farm scheme

A former executive accused of defrauding investors in a scheme to build an $11 million fish farm in Broookings has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier Monday also ordered Tobias Ritesman to pay $680,000 in restitution.

The 42-year-old Ritesman earlier pleaded guilty to 18 felonies in connection with the Global Aquaponics project.

Ritesman’s co-defendant, Timothy Burns of Brookings, will be sentenced next week.

Investors put up money for what was supposedly going to be a high-tech indoor fish farm.
Between May of 2016 and August of 2017, Ritesman and Burns received just over
$1-million in investments in the project from 34 investors. Instead of using the money for the project, Ritesman and Burns spent it on themselves.

A federal jury in April found Burns guilty of five counts of wire fraud.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Parsons says it’s an appropriate federal prison sentence for what was an ambitious and surprisingly audacious fraudulent scheme. Parsons says “a lot of South Dakotans lost a lot of money as the result of the web of lies spun by this defendant.”

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