On role in Ron Wilson Ponzi scheme
By Stan Welch
According to documents issued by U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs, the legal proceedings against former Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston in relation to his role in the Ron Wilson Ponzi scheme will not go to court before February of next year.
An amended conference and scheduling order was issued by the court in February of this year. The filing of the order also marked the beginning of the discovery process for the upcoming proceedings. Preston is a defendant in the bullion scheme that Wilson ran for more than a decade, bilking almost a thousand victims out of almost sixty million dollars. Wilson is currently serving a sentence of just under twenty years for his part in the scheme.
When the investigation into Wilson’s dealings first broke and he was arrested, Preston claimed that he too was a victim of the scam. The investigation revealed evidence to the contrary. Preston’s subsequent admission that he had in fact made approximately six hundred thousand dollars from his role in bringing in new victims was also challenged by federal investigators, who allege that Preston actually made double that amount. The federal courts are currently seeking to recover that amount to be distributed to the victims.
The scheduling order calls for the plaintiffs, in this case court appointed receiver Beattie Ashmore, to provide the defendant with a complete list of his expert witnesses, and written copies of their reports by July 28, 2016. By September 29, the defendant must provide the same information to Ashmore.
Any affidavits concerning records to be presented at trial must be provided by that same date, with discovery to be completed by October 27, 2016. Various deadlines will come and go for the filing of various motions by both sides, but jury selection is set for February 6, 2017, unless changes are made by the court before then.
In an unusual occurrence, Judge Childs issued a consent confidentiality order which effectively seals the results of the discovery process, allowing Preston to assert confidentiality of certain items, documents and information. This would require the plaintiff to challenge the various items for which the defendant claims confidentiality on a case by case basis.
According to the judge’s order, the two sides stipulated that some materials should be treated as confidential. The order was issued on May 17, 2016.
Another oddity of this case lies in the fact that Beattie Ashmore, the court appointed receiver representing the victims, once represented Preston in a lawsuit he filed against County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson in his official capacity as county administrator. According to Wilson, the lawsuit was filed in 2003 and was an effort to intimidate and harass her.