Fruitport man's fraud trial delayed

The trial of a Fruitport man indicted in a federal fraud case has been delayed.

Our partner, the Grand Haven Tribune, reports Christopher Ostrowski, 53, is now scheduled to appear for trial in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa., on March 6, 2017, citing court files.

Jury selection was scheduled to start on Monday.

Ostrowski entered a not-guilty plea when he was indicted Aug. 23. Along with his former boss, Dennis Tubbergen, who is the former CEO of GTBK Marketing of Grand Rapids, Ostrowski is facing several charges relating to an investment scheme designed to match donors with charities, the indictment claims.

The charges include six counts of aiding and abetting fraud by wire, radio or television; and individual counts of attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, influencing a juror or witness, and false declarations before a grand jury.

GTBK, which operated from May 1, 2001, until at least Feb. 19, 2013, offered a product called the Immediate Legacy Program, which was designed to help non-profit organizations raise donations, according to the indictment.

Ostrowski served as a traveling salesman, who made presentations to financial planners and insurance agents across the country in an attempt to get them to become GTBK agents. Those interested would pay to travel to Grand Rapids for a multi-day presentation made by Tubbergen, court papers state.

Another part of the alleged conspiracy was that the two men promoted the program as being used by former NFL player and coach Mike Ditka; the Grid Iron Greats; the Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago; Yale, Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities; various college football programs; the Archdiocese of Grand Rapids; and other well-known non-profit entities, churches and organizations, court papers state. While some of the entities named had listened to a sales presentation, they had rejected the proposal to use the program.

Court papers noted those who attended the presentations in Grand Rapids were pressured to sign up before someone else took the position for their area. Those who signed up paid between $35,000 and $50,000 for the license to sell the product and were given a money-back guarantee. They were also told they would get training, marketing and exclusive relationships with charities and other non-profit entities, which the investors were told were already established and waiting to be contacted.

Those who purchased the program did receive some training and marketing materials, according to the indictment, but nobody received any exclusive relationship with any charity interested in using the program.

Another part of the alleged conspiracy was when purchasers complained about the false representations of the program and tried to get their money back, they found it very difficult. Their credit cards also continued to be charged, even after they complained and left the program.

The complaint says that, upon conviction, the defendants would have to forfeit nearly $2.2 million, or substitute property if the funds were not available.

Ostrowski joined North Ottawa Community Hospital in late 2013 as the director of fund development. Hospital spokesperson Jennifer VanSkiver said Ostrowski left NOCH on March 23 of this year. A parishioner of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spring Lake, Ostrowski was part of the church’s planning committee for the fundraising campaign for the new school.


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