A Canby businessman has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution for defrauding at least four elderly investors out of approximately $284,000.
James Robert Frackowiak, 44, was sentenced by Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Todd L. Van Rysselberghe after pleading guilty to 13 of the 28 counts of aggravated theft and securities fraud he had been originally charged with (in two separate criminal cases).
Frackowiak was best-known locally as the founder and operator of the now-defunct Frack Burger restaurant chain, which had a location in Canby that’s now home to Chapala Express. The chain, which had as many as seven stores in the Portland metro area at its peak, gained an early reputation for its high-quality burgers, featuring Oregon-sourced, grass-fed beef.
But in the months and years before Frack eventually went out of business, that reputation would suffer, particularly its customer service. One former customer told us the last time he visited the Canby location, they got his order wrong. Really wrong. He’d asked for a burger. They gave him a pizza.
In addition to being a restaurateur, Frackowiak was also an insurance agent operating under the business names Plan-It Financial and Frack Insurance.
Starting in 2007, Frackowiak began selling a series of insurance policies that his elderly victims would buy and then surrender. The victims would lose money when surrendering these policies, while Frackowiak would gain a large commission.
In 2013, Frackowiak created the Frack Income Fund, LLC, which promised returns of up to 9 percent over a five-year span. The victims surrendered an insurance policy to invest in the fund and also made several additional loans to Frackowiak, who then funneled this money into personal debts related to his other businesses, including Plan-It Financial and Frack Burger (both of which closed in 2016).
The sheriff’s investigation into Frackowiak began in April 2017, when the granddaughter of an elderly couple approached detectives with concerns that Frackowiak was defrauding her grandparents through personal loans and life-insurance policy purchases and sales. During the investigation, deputies also learned Frackowiak had significant personal liens, personal judgments and tax liens.
The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation discovered the scheme after receiving a complaint from one of the victims about Frackowiak’s insurance practices. The investigation revealed Frackowiak was withholding and combining client insurance premium payments. The division revoked Frackowiak’s insurance producer license in 2017 and fined him $14,000.
The division’s enforcement team worked with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office and Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office on the separate securities case.
“Collaboration at all levels of government service is essential for cases like this,” said Andrew Stolfi, division administrator. “Before making any investment, we encourage Oregonians to do their homework, ask plenty of questions, and be suspicious of offers that appear too good to be true.”
Oregonians are encouraged to make sure financial service agents and investment products are legally registered with the state before signing any agreement.
Want to support free, useful, locally produced journalism like this? Then consider joining our monthly membership program, Canby Now Plus, for as little as $1 a month! You’ll help us sustain and expand our work, plus you can get access to exclusive content, cool merchandise and other goodies. Thanks!