BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Pell City man is charged in connection with a scheme to defraud investors in his various companies of more than $3.5 million, according to U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona.

Federal court records show John Michael Golden, 48, is charged with one count of wire fraud. Golden was the founder and owner of Wolk-Tek LLC, MountainTop Timber LLC and DroneTek. Between January 2018 and July 2022, Golden allegedly came up with a scheme to persuade people to invest in his companies.

He is accused of making misrepresentations to the investors including the following: his businesses were going to be sold to companies such as Amazon, he had timber leases and an ability to harvest timber for profit, and he had hundreds of pre-orders for drones that he simply needed capital to fulfill. Authorities allege he also gave some investors promissory notes in which he misrepresented his ability to repay.

Golden allegedly defrauded investors in his companies of more than $3.5 million and used the funds to pay back prior investors and for personal expenses. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison.