Ron Wilson (right) leaves a Greenville Courthouse as reporters follow.
By Stan Welch – A federal receiver has been appointed as part of the plea agreement signed by Ron Wilson in connection with his prosecution for mail fraud. Beattie Ashmore, a Greenville attorney was appointed by order of District Court Judge Michelle J. Childs to locate and seize any and all assets of Wilson.
Wilson has agreed to cooperate fully in identifying and locating such assets, so that they can be liquidated and the proceeds applied to compensating Wilson’s victims. Beattie, however, acknowledged to The Journal that the term “full restitution”, as ordered by the court, is more of a legal term than a realistic one.
“If I had to characterize this situation in terms of recovery and compensation, I’d have to describe it as grim” said Ashmore at Monday’s press conference. U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles described a recent case where nineteen million dollars was recovered, but seventeen of that was seized immediately from bank accounts.
The order appointing Ashmore lists several “entities and individuals controlled by and/or alter egos of the Defendants to include Republic Bullion & Coin, Inc,; Henry & Crowder Family Ltd. Partnership; Bailey &Rice Family Ltd. Partnership; Live Oak Farms; Smallwood Family Trust; and Professional Planning of Easley, LLC.”
A listing of some of the properties already identified and seized reflects ownership by some of those same entities. More than 180 acres located in several different locations, as well as lots and commercial properties have been identified. The largest single tract listed is 117 acres on the Enoree River near Fountain Inn. That property is currently titled to Wallace Lindsey Howell, Director of Kingdom Estate Trust.
Other properties, including the site of the family residence in Easley, are titled to Wilson’s wife Cassie Wilson, and the Live Oak Farms property is titled in part to Alison and Charles Schaum, Wilson’s daughter and son-in-law.
Ashmore told The Journal after the press conference that the livestock from the farm was sold that day. “The first thing is to sell anything that is eating,” he explained. He described the Live Oaks Farm, where Wilson’s daughter , Alison Schaum, practiced alternative and sustainable farming methods, “an unusual property.”
“For instance, there are $360,000 worth of solar panels in place, but there is no actual residence on the site. There is a loft apartment above the barn, but that is all.” According to the list of properties in the agreement, that site comprises approximately 60 acres on Sam Davis Road in Woodruff.
Ashmore was asked by The Journal if Wilson’s wife would be able to retain a residence and he declined to comment on that matter. He did, however, state “Any and all assets that we can identify will be pursued aggressively.”
Among other assets already identified were several vehicles, including a 2011 F350 Ford pickup, a 2010 Honda Element, a 2008 Ford F250 truck and other vehicles and farm appurtenances. A total of eight items was listed.
Also seized was $79,986 from two locations – 203 Siloam Road and 900 East North St. in Greenville. In addition, according to court documents, undisclosed amounts of coins, bars and monies were also seized from those locations, as well as from 1308 Circle Rd. in Easley. Two bank accounts have been seized, one containing approximately $213,000. The contents of the other are not revealed.
Fifty five firearms have been seized ranging from handgun to shotguns to long range hunting rifles.
Ashmore said that the forfeiture process may take months. Those who think they have a claim can reach his office at 864-271-8200 or by mail at P.O. Box 9019, Greenville, SC 29604. A website, www.receiverwilsonabc.com will post updates and significant developments in the case.