An Eagle Rock man is facing federal fraud and money laundering charges after allegedly selling an “ancient slag” he said contained precious metals, officials announced Tuesday.
Michael Godfree, 77, was arrested and is set to be charged with five counts of mail fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft for misusing the name of an attorney, according to the United States Attorney Central District of California.
Prosecutors believe Godfree made at least $7 million in sales from more than 100 victims. He allegedly used victims’ money to pay for sales commissions and his personal expenses, which included buying luxury items, officials said.
Godfree was co-founder of The Minerals Acquisition Company, a Pasadena-based company who told victims they “proof of concept” of a method to extract precious metals from a slag that came from copper mining, according to a grand jury indictment.
The company promised to refine the material and recover the precious metals, officials said. The company even gave victims attorney-certified “certificates of title” that supposedly transferred the ownership of the slag to the victims.
Godfree and his company did not own most of the slags that were sold, and there was not a process for extracting metals.
“Godfree’s scheme was nothing more than a series of lies,” a news release about the indictment reads.
He faces a maximum sentence of 112 years in prison if convicted as charged.
TMAC was dissolved in 2015, but the company’s operations were taken over by Precious Metals of North America, Inc., another of Godfree’s companies.