By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
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In some cases, says assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Schelp, Weir sold a client's coin to a dealer in California. The coin was then marked up, and Weir convinced another client to buy it. As a result, he earned commissions for both transactions. "I'm not saying it was illegal," Schelp says. "But it's unethical."
Weir pleaded guilty on February 20, and pointed authorities to other collectibles in his basement that could be sold to compensate victims.
On a rainy day in March 2009 federal agents returned to the Weirs' home and seized dozens of baseball cards, including three Lou Brock rookie cards. They also took North Korean, Russian and Nazi artifacts, among them a cast-iron bust of Stalin and an autographed photo of Adolf Hitler from the 1920s.
Weir warned them about certain mortar shells and hand grenades they would find amid his other military memorabilia. So the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives brought their bomb technicians who determined the materials were inert. What they didn't expect to find was a Cold War-era Soviet landmine.
Fearing it was still active, the agents cleared out of the basement. Because it was military weaponry, they dispatched the bomb squad from Scott Air Force Base. "It screwed up the seizure a little," Cosentino remembers.
While awaiting sentencing, Weir now lives at his sister's home in St. Charles County. He has surrendered his passport and wears an ankle bracelet. Weir is also under investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Watkins says, adding that his client, Jim Winkelmann, is not.
Asked about Weir's motivations, Schelp says it was "greed, pure and simple. You can spin it however you want, but the bottom line is, he wanted things he could not afford and decided to obtain those things through crime."
Many of Don Weir's 44 victims knew him quite well — or thought they did.
"Now I can't trust people — he took that away from me," says one defrauded investor in Ballwin, Missouri. She had been Weir's client for sixteen years. "That has hurt me more than anything, more than the money."
Another victim in St. Charles County says she knew Weir from both elementary school and church. "He was the person I would call and ask to pray for someone in my family," she says. "He would ask me to do the same."
Since learning of the scam, she says, she's told her kids to not spend a dime because she can't pay the bills. "I don't know where I'm going to live," she says. "It was all based on money I thought I had, and now it's gone."
She complains that stress from the case has made her physically ill for three months. "Sometimes I pray the people in prison will do whatever they want with him," she says. "I know that's bad, but that's how I feel sometimes, because that's how he treated people he called his clients."
Ed Wiegand was a client who says he went camping with Weir during high school. Wiegand claims to have lost around 85 percent of his securities investments when the economy dropped. The hedge, he says, were the coins he bought from Weir. But right now, he counts those as a total loss.
Wiegand had been a semi-retired handyman in Colorado. Now he's back working full-time. "It's a situation where now you got to bounce back," he says. "But there's nothing to bounce back with."
Some victims suspect Weir has transferred funds to offshore accounts or even buried some gold in Queeny Park. "Based on their information, victims will come up with theories that can't be substantiated," says U.S. Postal Inspector, Dan Taylor.
Bryan Schopp, Weir's former running partner, is still trying to recover from what happened. "There was nobody more trustworthy," he says of Weir. "How could he ruin so many lives?" Schopp wonders aloud, sipping on a can of non-alcoholic Busch beer.
Prints of military aircraft hang on the walls of his living room. Weir had given them as a gift. Schopp had gotten them framed.
In addition to running, they had gone to air shows together. Schopp would do things like help replace a tire on Weir's riding lawnmower because his friend wasn't handy around the house. "We had such a good time together," Schopp says. "It made it so hard to believe he was ripping me."
Weir had assured Schopp his financial gains were more than enough to retire on. As a result, he cut back his hours in pool construction. Now, he says, there's little work left, so he makes money cleaning houses when he can.
He's hoping the courts will grant him and his wife, Linda, enough compensation to stay in their duplex. He also wants to sell some of the coins he's been holding himself, but can't find a buyer. He wishes the man who once called him his best friend would help.
"I've called him a thousand times since this happened, saying, 'Come on, just explain! Tell me how to get rid of these coins without losing my ass.' He's never called back."