A federal courtroom erupted in cheers as a South Carolina man learned he will spend the next nineteen years in prison for operating a massive Ponzi scheme that duped investors out of $60 million. Ronnie Wilson, 65, had pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud earlier this summer, and had faced a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. Wilson received a 235-month sentence - five months short of the maximum 20-year sentence - for what authorities called one of the worst financial frauds in state history. Along with the sentence, Wilson was also ordered to pay $57,401,009 in restitution and serve three years of probation upon release.
As detailed in an earlier Ponzitracker article leading up to the sentencing, Wilson operated Atlantic Bullion & Coin, Inc. since at least 2001, promising investors lucrative gains by profiting off the appreciation of silver without having to actually physically acquire the precious metal. Investors were told that Wilson would purchase the silver and arrange for safekeeping at a Delaware depository. Ultimately, over $90 million was raised from investors. However, Wilson purchased very little actual silver, and instead used investor funds to make principal and profit distributions to existing investors - the classic hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.
At the sentencing hearing, Wilson recounted that while the fraud began on a small scale, it soon spiraled out of control to the point where Wilson began stealing from his daughter and brother. The court-appointed receiver, Beattie Ashmore, has indicated that his investigation thus far "would paint a very dim picture" of a meaningful recovery of assets for distribution to victims.
The Receiver's website is here.