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By Jacquelyn Stoess
Oldham Era news editor
A Prospect man who managed to disappear for more than four years before he contacted his family in June 2006 will serve prison time for theft of more than $2 million from investors.
Thomas Welby Cox, 65, of Prospect, was sentenced to six years and three months imprisonment, followed by three years' supervised release.
In June, Cox was convicted of 39 counts of transporting monies stolen from investors across state lines into various accounts he established with banks in Louisville.
As part of his sentence, Cox is required to pay $348,000 to the 15 victims who invested monies in a business enterprise Cox formed with another individual.
Evidence introduced at trial showed that Cox transferred $2 million of monies invested with him into a personal account with a bank in Monaco.
Cox was reported missing May 15, 2002, and he returned to Louisville in June 2006.
Beginning in May 1999 and during the next 3 1/2 years, Cox transferred these monies in and out of various bank accounts under his control located in several states
During this process he expended the majority of these funds for his personal benefit or benefit for family members by transporting portions of these funds from a trust account in Texas to various bank accounts which Cox or various family members owned or controlled.
Many of these accounts were deceptively named and had "charitable trust"-type names ostensibly for housing aid for the poor or the environment.
Cox was reported missing by his wife, Jane, who filed a missing persons report at the Oldham County Police Department.
Jane Cox told police she last saw her husband about 7 a.m. May 13, 2002, at their home located at 4015 Hayfield Way in Prospect.
According to the missing persons report, she remembered her husband wearing a navy blazer and khaki pants with a gold chain and his wedding band. OCPD Detective Ted Spegal said when Cox contacted a family member in Louisville in 2006, the family member immediately called OCPD.
"We believed that he would be located eventually," Spegal said. "That's why we actively kept searching for him, following up on every lead. There was evidence leading us to believe he was still alive and one day we would locate him."
Spegal, the lead detective assigned to investigate Cox's disappearance, did not specify the evidence that led police to believe Cox would be found alive and would not reveal who contacted OCPD, but did say person is an immediate family member of Tom Cox.
During Cox's four-year disappearance, detectives followed leads across the nation, including credit reports and matches to Cox's profile in the National Crime Information Center database. But every lead came up negative.
Detectives stayed in contact with Cox's family in Prospect, in the event that Cox contacted them - as he did leading to his arrest.
Spegal said Cox's disappearance and eventual return is not a typical missing persons' case. Usually, the missing individual returns home or has communication with their family members shortly after they're reported missing, he said.
"[Cox] stayed missing for years with no contact that we know of," he said. "Most people aren't able to sever all ties with his family and children for that long of a period."
Cox does not face charges in Oldham County.
According to the affidavit of FBI Special Agent Mark Hamrock, Cox solicited $4.1 million from about 15 investors between October and December 1998, which monies were to be used to purchase bank debentures at discounts and sold thereafter at a profit. Though Cox represented to investors that their monies would not leave the continental U.S., Cox transferred $4 million to accounts with ABC Banque Internationale de Monaco in Monaco.
Cox invested $2 million with a European investment company known as Tri Star Monaco Corporation, which were apparently thereafter lost. The FBI was unable to trace the final disposition of these funds. Cox deposited the remaining $2 million into a personal account he maintained with ABC Bank Internationale in Monaco.
In May 1999, Cox transferred the $2 million to an account of a New York law firm, which later transferred $1.5 million to Cox's personal bank account after deducting expenses for legal services and paying his personal bills for Cox.
During the next several years, Cox laundered the funds into various accounts under his control, spent the funds for his personal benefit and that of family members by transferring monies into bank accounts they controlled, according to the FBI affidavit.
Portions of the remaining funds were expended by Cox in late 2001, when he wrote eight $9,500 checks to entities controlled by him or his wife and mailed the checks from Houston to Kentucky, where the checks were deposited into the accounts controlled by the couple.
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