State charges dismissed in World Plus pyramid plan

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2000

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage judge has dismissed state charges against a Fairbanks woman previously convicted in federal court of running the World Plus pyramid scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars.

Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton agreed last week with RaeJean Bonham's lawyer that she was protected under the rules of double jeopardy, which keep defendants from being tried twice for the same crime.

Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Cooper said Wednesday she was not sure yet whether the state would appeal. She said the state has 30 days to decide.

In 1998 Bonham pleaded guilty to federal charges of one count each of mail fraud and money-laundering as part of a plea agreement. She was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $5.7 million.

Bonham promised investors their money would be used to buy large blocks of frequent-flyer miles that would be converted into discount airline tickets and sold at great profit. World Plus actually was a pyramid scheme in which earlier investors were paid with money put in by later investors.

About 1,200 investors across the country invested more than $15 million, lured by the promise of up to a 50 percent return on their money within a few months.

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