UPSTATE—Former Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson, who bilked silver investors out of more than $50 million, was sentenced to 19 and a half years in jail at a hearing in Greenville on Tuesday.
The 64- year-old recently pled guilty to mail fraud in relation to a silver Ponzi scheme at an earlier hearing.
The scheme spanned 11 years and affected more than 800 investors in 25 states, according to officials.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles said a Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering higher returns than other investments, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent.
“One of the investments Wilson offered was a Silver Investment Account, wherein the investors did not take physical possession of silver allegedly bought on their behalf,” said Nettles in a release. “Instead, Wilson claimed to hold his clients’ silver at a Delaware Depository. He showed them brochures and other documents from the depository and assured them that their silver would be safe there.”
Wilson did not buy silver and lied to clients about their silver being stored in Delaware, according to officials.
He created fictitious account statements for clients that showed their silver holdings when, in fact, he had not bought any silver for them.
“Wilson also purported to trade the silver by buying at low prices and then selling at peak prices to earn profits. These were in fact phantom trades,” said Nettles. “Wilson used the money received from clients for his personal benefit. He also used money from newer clients to make pay outs to earlier clients when these earlier clients requested draws on their accounts.”
Wilson will also be facing a federal civil enforcement action regarding the Ponzi scheme, which was filed by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Wilson was taken into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing.