Federal authorities indicted two Arizona brothers for their role in helping a South Carolina man implicated in a $60 million Ponzi scheme attempt to hide money from authorities. Gordon and Benton Hall were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and are currently in route to South Carolina after being arrested in Arizona. Authorities allege that the brothers agreed to provide monthly payments to Wallace Lindsey Howell, a South Carolina man charged in the $60 million silver bullion scheme masterminded by Ron Wilson, in exchange for hiding over $1.5 million in Howell's assets. Wire fraud conspiracy carries a maximum prison sentence of twenty years, along with criminal fines of up to $250,000.
From 2001 to 2012, former Anderson County councilman Ron Wilson solicited investors for his company, Atlantic Bullion & Coin, Inc. ("ABC"), which purported to make healthy profits from trading in silver futures contracts. Telling investors he would purchase silver bars that would be held in safe-keeping in a Delaware repository, Wilson raised approximately $90 million from 1,000 investors. However, according to authorities, Wilson was not actually buying the quantity of silver he represented to investors, but rather was running a massive Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of nearly $60 million. After being arrested in April 2012, Wilson pled guilty in July and was later sentenced to serve 19 years in prison.
However, Wilson was not alone in carrying out the scheme, and authorities later charged Wallace Howell with mail fraud conspiracy on the basis that he acted as a promoter for the scheme and touted it to investors as a lucrative opportunity. Investors, however, were not told that Howell was paid handsomely for his efforts and received millions of dollars in commissions from Wilson. Howell pled guilty earlier this year to wire fraud conspiracy.
According to authorities, Howell contacted the Halls shortly after Wilson was arrested in an attempt to dispose of a portion of the illicit profits he had received from Wilson. The men allegedly came to an agreement, in which the Halls agreed to pay Howell's legal bills and provide him a guaranteed monthly payment for life in exchange for at least $1.5 million Howell transferred to the pair that included real estate, a truck, 55 gold coins, and 1,000 ounces of silver. The silver alone, based on a current market price of $28.50 per ounce, is worth nearly $300,000.
A receiver has been appointed to gather assets for Wilson's victims, and any assets recovered from the Halls would likely go to the Receiver's efforts. The 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.