CEO Convicted in Shipbuilding Scheme

By Staff
3 Min Read

On Thursday, 71-year-old Curtiss E. Jackson was convicted of a long-running scheme that bilked investors out of millions over a fraudulent boatbuilding and cruise business.

Jackson and his wife, Jamey Jackson, owned Semisub Inc, a shipbuilding firm in Hawaii. Both sought investment in the company and for more than ten years told financial backers that the prototype vessel, the Semisub One, was just months, even weeks away from starting operations. 

Semisub was envisioned as a luxury cruise boat with a proprietary vessel design that allowed passengers to look underwater through special viewing windows.

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Jackson told investors he had deals with government agencies as well as a private investment firm to build and sell a fleet of Semisubs valued at tens of millions of dollars. He hoped to sell Semisubs for $32 million each. All told, the Jacksons took more than 400 investors for more than $28 million, and while they did build a boat, they also used the money to buy luxury homes in California and Hawaii, a Mercedes-Benz and luxury vacations. They also spent funds on marijuana and psychics. 

Curtiss didn’t just bilk the investors, but once law enforcement was on to the Jacksons, he sent his co-conspirator death threats, including a text message that linked to a video called “Death of FBI Informants,” which showed TV characters being killed in shows after cooperating with the FBI. 

In January 2023, the day before his bond revocation hearing, Jackson jumped aboard the Semisub One and tried to flee U.S. waters with a fully stocked boat and $30,000 in cash. He left Oahu, but had to return due to trouble with one of the boat’s two motors. He gave it another shot after allegedly fixing the problem, but authorities quickly ran him down. 

The physical prototype, according to the Coast Guard, was quite different from original plans. When it finally received the green light as a passenger vessel it only operated for a few months before it experience engine trouble, which took it offline. 

Jackson was convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, witness tampering, and obstructing an official proceeding while on pretrial release. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September and faces 20 years for each count and another 10 years in prison for committing an offense while on release.

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