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Trial set for Ex-CyberNet President
Who's Next?

James. M. Horton

April 19, 2006, the former president of CyberNet, Grand Rapid, Michigan James Michael Horton, 54, was charged with four federal felonies: criminal conspiracy, bank fraud, money laundering and attempting to conceal the whereabouts of $700,000 in fraud proceeds. A jury trial has now been set for late June.

Horton had inside knowledge of the mammoth fraud that ultimately led to the company's collapse following an FBI raid in November 2004, the Feds declare in their case against him.

Although a trial date is set, it is still possible that Horton may reach a deal with the government, particularly since the feds have announced they are after others who they consider as guilty in participating in the scheme to reap nearly $100 million from banks and leasing companies. They appear willing to settle for lesser time for testimony of the involvement of others.

The government has changed its attitude in not just seeking the corporate president, but officers and department managers who participate in fraudulent practices, cover-ups, and perjury. It is not just the founder they are after, but all those who participate before and after the event.

While not named, it appears there are five co-conspirators at CyberNET they are after. The co-conspirators, identified only as "principals" one through five, signed loan agreements, stuffed computer boxes with bricks to fool creditors and even rented mail boxes outside Michigan to feed the deception, the government said.

"The borrowed money was either used to enrich CyberNET (executives) or to repay earlier loans," according to the charges.

Prosecutors began seeking Horton's cooperation in December 2004, just weeks after the fraud was exposed, CyberNET shut its doors and founder Barton Watson committed suicide.