Posted: Thursday, August 20th 2009 at 2:51pm
Ponzi scheme mastermind gets 12 years
Victim James Torchia (c) lost over a million dollars and told Judge O’Kelley he wanted Spell to get the maximum sentence
GAINESVILLE - The Clermont man accused of the biggest ever Ponzi scheme in Hall County history has been ordered to federal prison for 12 years.
Restitution for Wendell Spell's victims, who lost millions of dollars, could be decided in the next 90 days, according to U.S. District Judge William C. O'Kelley.
Spell was accused of bilking investors out of millions of dollars in a scheme involving the sale of heavy equipment. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud March 23.
Federal Judge William O’Kelley said he imposed the upper level of the sentence guidelines despite pleas of leniency from Spell’s attorney, his relatives and Spell himself.
Victim James Torchia lost over a million dollars and told Judge O’Kelley he wanted Spell to get the maximum sentence.
“I think it was a pretty right-on sentence, 12 years, and there it was, 12 years,” Torchia said, adding that he believes a large amount of the $16 million is still somewhere.
“I think they are, and I think a receiver should be appointed to try to garner those assets,” Torchia said.
Victims provided Spell with a total of $62 million, which he promised to return at a high rate of interest, but testimony during the sentencing revealed it turned out to be a ponzi-style 'rob Peter to pay Paul' scheme.
Judge O’Kelley said he had to consider the human effect...the investors whose retirement income was wiped out, who had to go back to work now because they lost everything.
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