November 25, 2016

A 57-year-old Texas man who faces multiple felony theft charges in four counties — including Carroll — is set to stand trial next month in Pocahontas.

It will be the first trial of David William Johnson, a former Humboldt investment broker who convinced at least four people to invest about $250,000 in fake foreign currency from 2011 to 2014, according to court records.

He faces up to 25 years in prison for the most-serious charge of ongoing criminal conduct. He faces that charge in each county.

The trial is set to start Dec. 6 in Pocahontas. Johnson’s trial in Carroll will follow.

A Coon Rapids woman, Carla Schaefer, 66, allegedly gave Johnson $150,000 to invest with the so-called International Bank of Meekamui, a scam perpetrated by a con man who named himself king of an island in Papua New Guinea.

The con man, Noah Musingku, or “King Pei II,” as he called himself, wore a crown of gold and asked people to wire money to his false bank, where the money was purportedly converted to his fake Bougainville Kina currency and earned at an incredible interest rate that convinced some investors they were doubling their money each month. Some believed they were billionaires.

The scheme crumbled last year when the scam’s victims learned they were unable to exchange the fake money for U.S. dollars and other real currency.

An assistant Iowa attorney general who is prosecuting the case, Robert Sand, wrote in court  documents that he agreed to drop the criminal charges related to the faux Bank of Meekamui if Johnson were able to reclaim the money, and Johnson offered to pay the victims with “Z-Cash,” another dubious digital currency “which could supposedly be used only to purchase items from a website called the Internet Catalogue Club.”

Johnson has claimed unsuccessfully that he cannot be prosecuted because he is a “sovereign citizen,” one who was born in the United States and lives here but claims to not be a U.S. citizen.

In the Carroll case, Johnson’s first court-appointed attorney withdrew because Johnson refused to admit the Bougainville Kina is a fake currency.