Minnesota man sentenced to more than a decade in prison for Bakken housing scheme


ST. PAUL — A federal judge sentenced sentenced a Minnesota man to more than 10 years in prison Monday, Nov. 20, for defrauding investors in a housing project in the Bakken oil patch.

Ronald David Johnson, 51, was sentenced to 126 months — 10½ years — in prison for the scheme, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota. In June, a jury convicted the Corcoran, Minn., man on nine counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

Johnson was behind plans for an indoor RV park to address chronic housing needs in the oil patch. Oil workers would park RVs in climate-controlled warehouses and share amenities like storage, laundry and vending machines, according to the news release.

Johnson solicited $2.1 million from four investors for the project. But he used the money to repay prior investors, fund his personal cattle farm, take vacations, buy vintage cars and buy a 17-acre island on Mink Lake in Minnesota, authorities said.

Indoor RV Parks, LLC, has not built any such facilities or purchased in property in North Dakota or Montana, authorities said. Its bank account is empty.

The IRS and FBI investigated the case.

"Ronald Johnson abused the trust of his victims only to enrich himself at their expense," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson said in a statement. "With today's sentence, which includes prison time, restitution and a forfeiture order, Johnson is now being held accountable for his crimes."

An attorney for Johnson had left the office when a reporter called Monday afternoon. He didn't immediately return an email seeking comment.