CEO convicted for $28m long-running investment fraud scheme


Date: May 10, 2024


A federal jury convicted a Hawaii man yesterday for his role in a more than a decade-long scheme to defraud investors of Semisub Inc. and Semisub LLC (collectively, “Semisub”) of over $28 million.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Curtiss E. Jackson of Honolulu, was Semisub’s CEO in addition to holding other corporate positions, and fraudulently solicited investments in Semisub. Jackson and his co-conspirator falsely told investors for years that the prototype vessel, Semisub One, was “weeks” or “months” away from beginning operations. Jackson also solicited funds based on false statements that Semisub had entered into agreements or developed relationships with government agencies and a private investment firm to build and sell a fleet of “Semisubs” for tens of millions of dollars—among other misrepresentations. As a part of the scheme, Jackson and his co-conspirator used investor funds to pay for luxury residences in Hawaii and California, a Mercedes-Benz automobile, luxury vacations, psychics, and marijuana.

Jackson also sent a death threat to his co-conspirator during the investigation. The text message contained a link to an online video entitled “Death of FBI Informants,” which had clips from a television series depicting the deaths of several characters who had cooperated with the FBI. Jackson further obstructed an official proceeding by attempting to flee the United States’ territorial waters aboard the Semisub One, which was subject to criminal forfeiture proceedings, on the day before his bond revocation hearing.

The jury convicted Jackson of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, witness tampering, and obstructing an official proceeding while on pretrial release. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 23 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count and a consecutive 10 years in prison for committing an offense while on release. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors for the District of Hawaii; Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Criminal Investigations Group; and Special Agent in Charge Adam Jobes of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) Seattle Field Office made the announcement.

The IRS CI and USPIS investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Jennifer Bilinkas, Kate McCarthy, Christopher Fenton, and Matthew Reilly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Nammar and Aislinn Affinito for the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.