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Augusta man sentenced for investment scams

Williams tricked friends, family for almost 2 decades

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The Augusta insurance agent who stole from his friends and family over nearly two decades through fraudulent investment schemes was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to nine years in prison.

Augusta insurance agent Walter Marion Williams, shown in 1980, stole almost $2 million in fraudulent investment schemes.   Special
Special
Augusta insurance agent Walter Marion Williams, shown in 1980, stole almost $2 million in fraudulent investment schemes.

Walter Marion Williams stared straight ahead during the more than two-hour hearing -- never looking back at the two rows of victims whose retirements and investments he pilfered over the past 17 years.

Even when he delivered an apology to his victims -- stating that he couldn't control his "spirit" and that he will forever regret the damage he's done -- Williams' eyes stayed focused on U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall, his defense attorney Pete Theodocian or the floor.

"It sickens me to realize what I've done and the devastation I've caused people," Williams said.

Starting in May 1992, Williams took money from family members, fellow churchgoers and longtime friends, promising he would invest their funds safely, securely and with a better return than a typical savings account. Williams, a former member of Warren Baptist Church, exploited his victims' religious devotion and their age to get the money.

The tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars he collected from the 16 victims was instead used to fund his lifestyle, including gambling trips and vacations in the Bahamas.

While his tax records only show a reported income from 2000 to 2008 of between $1,051 and about $30,000, Williams and his ex-wife Diane enjoyed a home in the gated Westlake community and a busy travel schedule.

It was a fact not lost on the judge. After listening for more than an hour to tearful, heartfelt pleas for justice from victims, Hall deliberated several minutes then returned to castigate Williams for "sentencing" so many to a life of hardship in their twilight years.

"In determining your sentence today, I have been struck by the extraordinary evil you have released on your victims and our community," Hall said. "These people have been betrayed beyond all reason."

Admitting that it's not likely Williams will ever be able to repay his victims monetarily, Hall said a strong sentence for Williams -- whose single charge was for mail fraud stemming from a fake investment confirmation package he mailed in 2005 to a victim in Ocala, Fla. -- would have to be repaid in jail time.

The 108-month sentence handed down was well above the typical sentencing guidelines for Williams' crime, which is from 51 to 63 months. Williams must also pay a minimum of $500 a month toward the $1.7 million restitution and serve three years of supervised release.

"The devastation your actions have caused to this community is wide and deep and will be felt for decades," Hall said, citing its affect on both the victims and the perceived reputations of other local insurance agents and investors.

Perhaps nothing was more surprising, or welcomed, by the victims than Hall's mention of Williams' ex-wife, Diane, who many have said is as guilty as Williams.

She worked in Williams' office and answered many of their calls as they tried to find out what was going on with their cash.

"I'm curious why he's the only one going to jail," Hall said. "I am convinced your ex-wife knew a lot more. I just find it beyond credible that she wouldn't have some idea."

Williams was given until 2 p.m. Aug. 9 to report to the authorities to begin his sentence. Williams is in the process of selling his home, which is under contract.

While the money from the sale was ordered to go toward the restitution for the victims, the home also is in Williams' ex-wife's name. Hall said he wouldn't approve a contract where Diane Williams was given half of the money and suggested Williams have a talk with her.

"She is very fortunate she's not standing where you are today," he said.

As court adjourned, the victims filed into the hallway -- some happy with Hall's decision, some wishing for more. After most had gone, Williams and his attorney rushed down the stone staircase and out the front of the courthouse. Asked for a comment, Williams paused briefly before Theodocian replied; "I don't think Walt's got anything to say."

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crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 07/14/10 - 12:10 pm
0
0
Good News! I knew it had to

Good News! I knew it had to be a Federal Court Judge, they don't let them get away with it, like some of our local judges do.

Nightwing
0
Points
Nightwing 07/14/10 - 12:26 pm
0
0
Should have to sell all his

Should have to sell all his assetts to make restitution to those he stole from as well as do the time.

Indigo
4
Points
Indigo 07/14/10 - 12:29 pm
0
0
He should spend his parole

He should spend his parole living in a trailer park.

citizenna
6
Points
citizenna 07/14/10 - 12:29 pm
0
0
I hope my grandmother sees

I hope my grandmother sees some of this restitution. I doubt she will though.

veggie-d
0
Points
veggie-d 07/14/10 - 12:35 pm
0
0
lets see...he'll likely do

lets see...he'll likely do 3-6 yrs. for stealing 1.7mil. that's a light sentence/deal...especially since none of the victims will ever see a dime of "restitution".

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/14/10 - 12:42 pm
0
0
He stole over 17 years...and

He stole over 17 years...and gets a 9 year sentence? At least he will serve practically the whole thing. No parole in the Federal system.

huli
0
Points
huli 07/14/10 - 12:55 pm
0
0
Has there been a picture of

Has there been a picture of him posted in the AC?

reader54
209
Points
reader54 07/14/10 - 01:02 pm
0
0
Not only is there no parole

Not only is there no parole in the federal system but he will only be eligible for a maximum of 54 days per year for good behavior. In the federal sentencing structure, financial crimes sentencing is calculated on the amount of money involved. He was not given a "downward departure" from the sentencing guidelines so this is an appropriate sentence. Let's just hope that he has not hidden his assets in order to circumvent the restitution order.

fish2
0
Points
fish2 07/14/10 - 01:22 pm
0
0
He will be sitting in

He will be sitting in Edgefield for the next 8 years---dang.

gnumbgnuts
0
Points
gnumbgnuts 07/14/10 - 01:32 pm
0
0
1.7 million at $25 per month.

1.7 million at $25 per month. Somebody do the math. BTW, his payment has really been set at $25 while he's incarcerated, then it goes up to a whopping $500 per month. These are totals, not per victim. Where's justice?

peepanson
0
Points
peepanson 07/14/10 - 02:42 pm
0
0
Im sorry that our Mayor and

Im sorry that our Mayor and County Comissioners is givng into so called
public pressure, from the people in the Harrisberg neighborhood? Mr. May
or, do you Truly think that Miss. Davis and Her Supporters is going to allo
w You and the County Comissioners to run Augusta like it should be ran? She wants the Mayor's office for the wrong reasons, I dont believe that she would be there for the betterment of Augusta as a whole? Perhaps, more pull and help would end up inthe laps of the people of Harrisburg? M
r. mayor and comissioners, please dont close the books on the medical
complex bus just yet. That bus is needed more than you may know, for
senior citizens and handicap people in the Irvin Towers neighborhood. Th
ere are people who uses and depends on the services of that bus. Alot of
people dont have cars, and are not able to walk long distances. can yall imagine what people would go through healthwise, if they would have to
try and walk all the way to wrightsboro road to catch the bus?

soldout
1280
Points
soldout 07/14/10 - 03:02 pm
0
0
There needs to be a way to

There needs to be a way to get work from these folks that produces money that can be paid back to those who lost money. He needs an incentive to pay the money back. Carpenter; who had a similar situation a few years ago paid some back but it didn't help his sentence so there is no incentive for these guys to pay anything back. There must a type of work that produces money that can be supervised that can help the ones who lost and make the thief acually help them. Somebody needs to figure this out. Locking them up stops them from doing more of the same but just cost all of us money and gets nothing for those who lost. Come on smart folks figure out a way to make punishment work.

julierobinson
0
Points
julierobinson 07/14/10 - 03:16 pm
0
0
Was wondering why his picture

Was wondering why his picture hasn't been seen on the front page, his victims were shown on Sunday, what about him? Also, wasn't there someone else in our community caught doing the same thing. He never spent one day in jail and is living a good, easy life in Myrtle Beach, SC!

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 07/14/10 - 03:29 pm
0
0
Give some of his investors
Unpublished

Give some of his investors time for being stupid and asking about their money!

peepanson
0
Points
peepanson 07/14/10 - 03:36 pm
0
0
It is more of a chalenge

It is more of a chalenge than most people know, for senior citizens and
handicap people to catch the bus. Plus they are faced with the fear of get
ting caught along way from home with heavy packages, and being muge
d or robbed, even during the daylight hours? Please take the time to think
about who will it hurt the most, if this bus is cut out. Perhaps you are not
making the money off this bus as you feel that you should? Cant you find
someother way to cut corners, than hurting us who need your help and s
upport so much? The weather right now is very hot, and it place untold pr
essure and wear and tear on the body of an older person, and handicaps.
Plus it wont be long until the weather start getting colder, and wet from the rain. Thank God, You Mr. Mayor and Commissioners, for the help and
support that you could render to the senior citizens and handicap, along L
aney Walker Blvd and the Irvin Tower Neighborhood. Im Minister. John W
alton, peepanson@yahoo.com, Augusta Georgia 30901-2744. 07-14-2010 @ 03;36PM.

KSL
129066
Points
KSL 07/14/10 - 04:19 pm
0
0
What happened to family

What happened to family taking care of their own???? My grandmother lived alone from 1964 to 1996 when she died at the age of 97. She lived 1/10 of a mile from my mother who was still working. She didn't drive. The last few years she didn't cook. My mother provided her meals.

Nativeson1
2
Points
Nativeson1 07/14/10 - 04:21 pm
0
0
Veggie: We are talking

Veggie: We are talking federal sentencing, so your 3-6 year calculation is a bit off...In the federal system an inmate is required to serve at least 85% of their sentence. You can get a 15% reduction of your overall sentence for good behavior, and good behavior means no infractions or demerits...Basically the feds don't play that!

getalife
4
Points
getalife 07/14/10 - 04:44 pm
0
0
Julierobinson, the person

Julierobinson, the person that is now in Myrtle Beach, what type business were they in?

I also think Walt Williams picture should be in the paper! So if he comes back people might be aware of him and not be scammed.

montega12
0
Points
montega12 07/14/10 - 05:59 pm
0
0
shoulda worked for the board

shoulda worked for the board of education then he coulda just paid the money back and be scot free

rmajor
8
Points
rmajor 07/14/10 - 06:08 pm
0
0
This is....he can't pay back

This is....he can't pay back enough. I am not proud of being mean to anyone, but this man took these folks lives. Many of these folks are older and retired or headed for retirement and he took their lives! They don't have their youth anymore. They worked all those years...how could someone with any kind of heart do this? I just can't get over this.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 07/14/10 - 07:41 pm
0
0
I hope many investors read

I hope many investors read this article and learn that just because someone is a "friend" or a "Christian" doesn't mean they really are. Before trusting someone with your money, learn what you're investing in. It's pretty easy to gain knowledge, all it takes is effort.
All of those cliches about "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is" and "Quick and easy doesn't need to be solicited" and "A little knowledge goes a long way, but a lot of knowledge is a lot safer" all got to be cliches for a reason.
I hate that an example like this has to happen to remind people of personal responsibility.
I hate government education has produced so many chumps.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 07/14/10 - 07:51 pm
0
0
How could someone sleep at

How could someone sleep at night knowing they have ruined the lives of others. I had been out of work for seventeen months, and finally was able to secure a part time job. During the time I was out of work , my vehicle was repossessed. I found a 15 year old car that needed some work on it, so I had to take a title pawn loan to do the work that needed to be done. I was on the way home from Augusta, I live in Thomson, and the car broke down. I could not afford to call a wrecker to tow it home. I left the car for two days, I kept a check on it, when I finally was able to get the part I needed to fix it with, I went back to the car and it was gone. I checked with law enforcement, the local wrecker agencies, both Thomson and Augusta, No one knew anything about it. I had to file a stolen vehicle report, and here I sit. I do not have the option to go buy a vehicle. The hours on my part time job vary week to week, so I do not even have a steady income. The person or persons responsible for stealing my vehicle need to share a jail cell with this man.I know times are tough, but they are tough for the many, not just a few. There is nothing to be gained by causing hardship upon another. There should be no plea deals, no country club prisons, or any thing else that would provide a life of ease for those who commit this kind of crime.

Dcontreras510
0
Points
Dcontreras510 07/14/10 - 08:00 pm
0
0
Not enough time!!!! He should

Not enough time!!!! He should have to serve at least 17 yrs for
the amount of money and people he scamed. They will never get their money and he will be 74 if he serves the whole time in prison. Then what, go back to his lavish lifestyle because no one knows how much he really has . The Picture, Seems no one has any, Think!!! Maybe he didn't want any of him taken, for just this reason... Shall you live your life in the cell and think of all of us you have destroyed and stolen from. You know the Cedar Chest Walter, we know who got to it first. You know what I mean... I know my sister and brother knows by now it was u...Shame on u.... you will answer upstairs to our Family......

stockbroker2
0
Points
stockbroker2 07/14/10 - 09:41 pm
0
0
I have found a picture and

I have found a picture and hopefully it will be published tomorrow. This man was a born predator he took, the elderly, feeble, friends and family for everything that they worked so hard to retire on while he was in Vegas, Bermuda and living in a gated community. Have you seen him? He is driving a nice car, lives in a gated subdivision and if he could show his face in public he would be dining out in the nicest of restaurants. It is a real pity that the people that he scammed as well as all of us will have to support him by virtue of our taxes while he's in jail.

stockbroker2
0
Points
stockbroker2 07/14/10 - 09:44 pm
0
0
julierobinson I think your

julierobinson I think your referring to the stockbroking scam perpetrated by a life long insurance agent in Augusta several years ago and as I recall his initials are G.H. Why he didn't get time has always perplexed me ,also.

DoggieMom
236
Points
DoggieMom 07/14/10 - 11:33 pm
0
0
They haven't even mentioned

They haven't even mentioned all the people this man cheated out of life insurance, telling us the price was x but he kept the first payment, and the second annual payment was sent to the company carrying the policy. This man is a crook through and through.

We are now w/o life insurance because of this man's fraud. He did far more wrong than just taking investment money. Thank goodness we never sent him more of our business. Ironically, the insurance company claims he never worked for them! 9 years is a light sentence for this scam artist.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 07/15/10 - 03:00 am
0
0
First of all, I agree that
Unpublished

First of all, I agree that Williams should be dealt with harshly and maybe his ex-wife, but she was not convicted of any crime so I question the judge's power to take assets away from her if the house is in her name.
Judges are only to enforce the laws not legislate laws, that's what congress does and these federal judges or any other for that matter should not take the law in their own hands. It is time for Americans to take back their country and stop this government from thinking they can
do whatever they like! I feel for the victims, but why did they wait so long to question Williams about their investments? I guess the victims
woke up after 15 years and said I think something is wrong, DUH!

Nightwing
0
Points
Nightwing 07/15/10 - 03:09 am
0
0
Again, he should have a force

Again, he should have a force sell of all assets and all proceeds go towards restitution. Also, the IRS should check real deep into his taxes.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 07/15/10 - 04:03 am
0
0
Peepanson: Excuse me but I
Unpublished

Peepanson: Excuse me but I think you're slightly off target with your posts here. Hello.........????? No bus stop chat going on in here. Maybe the bus dropped you off on the wrong page.

For the commentor unhappy with the judge's comments about Walt Williams' wife, I think it was ENTIRELY appropriate that the judge take a stand on the obvious lack of prosecution against her. The FBI did a Barney Madoff deal here and took a quick plea from Williams and spared his wife. They knew what they were doing, and it's just plain wrong. Walt Williams didn't have a large operation. It was small and closely held. No way his wife couldn't have known what was going on with the invested money. Duh....it was never invested, there were no statements received from where he invested the money and no statements sent out to the poor souls who sent their money in. I'd like to see her picture in the paper right along with a current photo of Walt, but I guess we might have to wait till his mug shot comes out in August.

justus4
101
Points
justus4 07/15/10 - 05:15 am
0
0
So that's what this guy looks
Unpublished

So that's what this guy looks like, well this judge went above the minimum federal guidelines and took into consideration the damage to seniors Williams actually caused. It appears an appropriate sentence and aught to send a message of caution when investing and whom to trust.

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