Robert B. Hiatt, 57, pleaded guilty Thursday to eight felony fraud counts and a single count of intimidating a witness after he threatened to kill a whistleblower.
Hiatt presented himself to investors for a decade as a successful inventor and businessman and claimed to have inside tracks to contracts with major companies. He solicited investors using front companies that looked real. In one of his schemes, he claimed to have a contract with General Electric on a “Shriker Chip” that purportedly had the ability to harness energy from lightning strikes.
To convince the investors, Hiatt created letterhead, email accounts and other documents that made the companies – Highgate Computer Co. and HighPlaces LLC – look legitimate. He charged investors fees to pay fictitious bills for attorneys, bank fees, taxes and other expenses.
By using the front companies, Hiatt was able to convince investors that he had patents and sales contracts with General Electric, the U.S. General Services Administration, Sears, Clorox, Rain Bird and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, according to court records.
Court records identified 10 victims, including Bryan Teel, of Davenport, who reported losses of $1.4 million. The victims include Dr. Stephen Smith, of California, and the late Howard Michaelsen, a longtime Spokane attorney, who lost $164,896 to one of Hiatt’s schemes.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.