Four years after charges were brought against Walter Reinhardt, an unlicensed securities trader accused of defrauding at least 16 investors out of more than $1 million, his trial is tentatively scheduled to go forward in Durham next week.
Reinhardt, 64, is charged with 55 counts of felony securities fraud, forgery and uttering offenses, including forging his clients' signatures. He is currently housed in the Durham County Jail under a $4 million bond.
In 2001 the National Association of Securities Dealers accused Reinhardt of forgery. He was fined $20,000 and barred from the industry. But he continued soliciting investments from 2005 to 2009, investigators say, asking his clients to put their money into a variety of risky businesses owned by a Richmond, Va., man. Reinhardt told his clients—mostly retired school teachers—that they could earn 8 to10 percent interest over four years.
In some cases, Reinhardt cut and taped his victims' signatures to make it appear they agreed to invest their money in Reinhardt's securities when in fact they had not, according to investigators.
In 2010, U.S. marshals apprehended Reinhardt in his Kenner, La., home. He was extradited to North Carolina and jailed. He was labeled a "fugitive from justice," he claims, and is considered a flight risk.
Shortly after Reinhardt was charged, then-Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline requested that the North Carolina Secretary of State's Securities Division appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case due to the specialized nature of securities fraud prosecutions. The job went to Senior Enforcement Attorney Zesely Haislip Jr.
Haislip confirmed he is prepared to go to trial next week.
Since his arrest, Reinhardt maintains his innocence and says that his career has been ruined because of his incarceration. In a voluminous number of motions written from jail, he says his Durham business was foreclosed by partners, and that he has lost his $100,000 investment, along with his business records and license and at least 120 clients. He also says he has lost properties s in Hillsborough, Durham and New Orleans, with losses of just under $1 million since his arrest.
Reinhardt has cycled through multiple lawyers, and at one point represented himself. He is now represented by attorney Kimberly Lott.
Reinhardt maintains that he has received more than 32,000 documents from the Securities Division during the discovery process. Evidence ordered by a judge to be turned over to Reinhardt's defense team includes any CD-ROMS, USB flash drives, floppy disks, smart cards, SIM cards, cell phones and portable hard drives collected by the prosecution, court documents show.
In his motions, Reinhardt has made claims of unsanitary conditions in the Durham County Jail. "Twice I have been roomed with troubled individuals who were withdrawing cold turkey through their chemical addictions. The stench of vomit, diarrhea and the smell of their bodies while in close confinement is almost beyond description," he wrote in one motion. "Green vegetables are rare and portions are minimal. The only fruit provided are small unripened oranes or apple sauce once or twice weekly. There are no nuts or nutritional grains offered in the trays," he later wrote.
During his extradition from Louisiana, he wrote in one motion, "[M]y life (and the lives of other inmates being transported) was repeatedly threatened by the drunken sociopaths who delighted in every possible torture that [they] could inflict. To this day I bear the marks of the shackles on my right ankle. While driving, the transport officer frequently dozed off only to be awakened by the air horns of tractor-trailers who braked and swerved to avoid us."