Preston finances remain under scrutiny

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By Stan Welch

Former Anderson County administrator Joey Preston’s legal troubles continue to deepen, as his role in the silver securities scam run by Ron Wilson comes under broader scrutiny by state officials.

In a complaint filed by the South Carolina Securities Commission in October, allegations were made that Preston helped steer investors to Wilson’s scheme, despite not being licensed to engage in such enterprise. The allegations do not address whether Preston was aware of the nature of the scheme or not; only that he was not properly licensed to perform in such a way.

The complaint further states that Preston held “silver parties” at his home where investors participated in seminars designed to encourage them to invest in Wilson’s scheme, which has since been defined by state and federal officials as a “Ponzi scheme” which swindled hundreds of investors out of tens of millions of dollars.

Wilson was sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison last week, after pleading guilty to two counts of mail fraud. Preston has previously claimed that he was just another innocent victim of Wilson’s swindle. The recent complaint makes it clear that the state attorney general takes a different view.

The South Carolina Attorney General also serves as the state’s Securities Commissioner.

According to the complaint, Preston received between $1.25 million and $4 million in cash , as well as “credits” to his account with Atlantic Bullion and Coin, in the amount of $1.2 million. Those numbers dwarf the figures included in testimony during Preston’s recent case with Anderson County, in which the County is seeking repayment of the $1.2 million severance package Preston received in 2008.

In that testimony, Preston confirmed that he had invested $200,000 in Wilson’s scheme and had withdrawn $600,000 from his AB&C account. At no time were the numbers cited in the recent complaint mentioned during the trial. Preston has also filed documents with the court claiming that he is unable to repay the severance package due to his current financial straits.

Also alleged in the state’s complaint last month were the charges that Preston, in concert with Wilson, sold securities which were not registered under the S.C. Uniform Securities Act. The complaint also alleges that Preston made false and misleading statements to investors in order to induce them to purchase the illegal securities.

The state is seeking repayment of the “ill-gotten gains” Preston obtained. He faces a fine of $10,000 per violation, and is charged with three offenses. However, there could be multiple violations under each offense, meaning that the fines could exceed $30,000.

Preston also testified during his recent trial that he is engaged in working out an agreement with the federal receiver to repay the monies he received from Wilson’s company.

Preston also recently won a contract to serve as Bamberg County’s administrator on a consultant basis. Recent news stories about Preston’s legal and financial difficulties reflect that county officials are raising serious questions about that contract going forward.