By Michelle Graff
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan--A man wanted by federal authorities in Las Vegas in connection with an alleged diamond mining company stock scam that bilked investors out of millions has died in Canada, authorities have confirmed.

Urban Casavant, who faced federal securities fraud charges in the CMKM Diamonds Inc. case, died on Feb. 14 in Saskatoon, a city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, following routine hernia surgery, New Horizons Holdings Inc. (the new name for CMKM Diamonds) reported on its website Feb. 17. He was 57.

The coroner’s office in Saskatoon confirmed Casavant’s death, listing it as due to “natural causes.”

The superseding indictment in the case against Casavant and five other defendants--John M. Edwards, Helen Bagley (who died in November, court papers show), Brian Dvorak, Ginger Gutierrez and James Kinney--was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in May 2009. In March 2010, a second superseding indictment was returned adding three more defendants, Jeffrey Turino, Nickolaj Vissokovsky and Jeffrey Mitchell, and more charges.

According to prosecutors, Casavant and the other defendants sold hundreds of billions of shares of stock in a Nevada-based diamond mining and exploration company called CMKM Diamonds to investors between September 2001 and March 2009, spurring public interest and demand by sponsoring motor sports racing teams, holding Internet promotions and issuing “false and misleading press releases.”

The only problem was that CMKM didn’t do any diamond mining or exploration; it was, in fact, a “hollow shell,” federal prosecutors say. “Although purporting to be an international diamond exploration and mining company, CMKM did not conduct substantive mining operations and did not produce any diamonds,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada said.

It is estimated that the defendants in this alleged scam cheated investors out of more than $60 million.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Casavant fled to Canada in 2009 following the indictment and had been fighting extradition ever since. Edwards fled to London and is still fighting extradition in the case.

A case update from U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada shows that court dates in the case are set for April.

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