Lea Ann Blystone, the owner and managing partner of HipDingo clothing and accessories stores in Boerne and Fredericksburg, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison Wednesday afternoon by Senior United States Judge David Ezra in San Antonio.
Blystone was convicted for orchestrating an estimated $1.4 million wire fraud scheme announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher H. Combs. Judge Ezra also order her to pay a judgment in the amount of $1,402,935.45 representing the monetary amount of proceeds traceable her scheme. In addition, Blystone will be placed on supervised release for three years after completing her prison term. Judge Ezra remanded Blystone into federal custody following the sentencing.
The 48-year-old Blystone previously owned the San Antonio locations of HipDingo stores. She was the former market director for Rinco of Texas, Inc. (Rinco) and its Rockin J Ranch (Rockin J) development near Boerne.
“On September 9, 2014, the Boerne, TX, resident pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and agreed to forfeit to the government any and all HipDingo inventory, assets and equipment; five real estate properties in Kendall County (TX); and, three vehicles,” stated a release from the FBI. “By pleading guilty, Blystone admitted that from January 2009 until August 2011, she devised and implemented a scheme to defraud Rinco and Rockin J to obtain money and other property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses.”
In February, a San Antonio federal jury found another co-owner of women’s clothing stores not guilty and the Court granted a Judgment of Acquittal for wire fraud and obstructing justice charges to the defendant.
According to Anthony M. Smith, attorney for Manson Porter, his client was acquitted in the trial of a $1.4 million fraud scheme involving the Hip Dingo clothing stores.
“I am pleased to report that after 7 days of trial, the federal jury found Mr. Porter NOT GUILTY on all 3 Counts of Wire Fraud and the 2 Counts of Obstructing Justice which were recited in the Indictment,” Smith told the Examiner yesterday. “The Court then entered its Judgment of Acquittal.”
On Sept. 10, 2014, the Examiner reported an article headlined “San Antonio, Boerne, Fredericksburg clothing stores owner guilty in $1.6M scheme.” The article reported that Porter, 48, was one of the defendants indicted in connection with the fraud charges.
Texas Secretary of State records indicate, Hipdingo, which originally filed as a corporation on Sept. 22, 2010, is no longer active and is listed as “Forfeited existence.” Manson was listed as a past President of Hipdingo, LLC.
“As marketing director for Rinco and Rockin’ J, Blystone coordinated staffing and vendor payments for promotional booths or display space at shows, malls, sporting and other events,” Durban explained. “Blystone caused Rinco and Rockin’ J to fraudulently pay her ex-husband and Rockin’ J contractor, 49-year-old Michael J. Webb of San Antonio; 48-year-old Rockin’ J contractor Karen Lindsay of Boerne; and 56-year-old Boerne resident and Rockin’ J contractor Cheryl E. Hartsfield for staffing the promotional displays.”
According to courtroom testimony, they shared these payments with Blystone. In some instances, Rinco and Rockin J paid for services when Blystone had provided no promotional work on their behalf. In others, Blystone caused Rinco and Rockin J to pay monies she used to pay persons working at her Hip Dingo stores, work wholly unrelated to promotions for the victims.