A co-conspirator of Ron Wilson has pled quilty to wire fraud conspiracy in connection with a ponzi scheme Wilson is currently serving time for. According to United States Attorney Bill Nettles, Wallace Lindsey Howell, age 61, of Mauldin, pled guilty in federal court in Greenville, to a wire fraud conspiracy, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.
United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs of Greenville accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Howell recommended Wilson’s investment program to numerous people and received “commissions” from Wilson for investors he brought in. The indictment focused on two clients introduced to Wilson’s investment scheme by Howell.
In April 2006, Atlantic Bullion & Coin statements showed these two clients made a profit because of silver trades that Wilson allegedly had made. According to a statement by Nettles, Wilson never made any real trades for any of his clients and was, in fact, operating a Ponzi scheme.
Howell told Wilson that since the two clients belonged to Howell, Wilson should put the profits earned in a separate account in Howell’s name. Wilson agreed to help Howell steal money from the two investors. On April 26, 2006, Wilson opened an account per Howell’s instructions and put $475,000 worth of profits in that account. In interviews with Secret Service agents, Wilson admitted that the trades for these two Howell clients would be left off their statements so they would be unaware a trade had occurred. Their numbers of “ounce ownership” would remain constant. Wilson further confirmed that from April 2006 to the March 2012, Howell received account credit for $6,264,960 in profits that should have been credited to the two Howell clients.
Acting on instructions received from Howell, Atlantic Bullion & Coin transferred almost $800,000 to a real estate seller to purchase farm property for Howell located in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. During the course of the conspiracy, law enforcement estimates that Howell withdrew an additional $2.7 million in Ponzi money for various personal expenses. Howell never invested any of his own money with Wilson. The federal receiver working to marshal assets related to the Wilson Ponzi fraud has also been directed by the Court to recover assets connected with Howell’s case.
Nettles stated the maximum penalty Howell can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 20 years, plus a special assessment of $100.
The case was investigated by agents of the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.