Former Chief Financial Officer Sentenced to Eight Years in Federal Prison for Multi-Million-Dollar Embezzlement
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 30, 2009|
ORLANDO, FL—U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton announces that U.S. District Judge Patricia C. Fawsett today sentenced Gary Ernest Williams (age 59, of Lake County) to eight years in federal prison for four counts of mail fraud and one count of income tax evasion. The court also ordered Williams to forfeit homes in Pennsylvania and North Carolina; a 2007 Lexus automobile; and cash payments that had been used to purchase property in the Bahamas. All of these assets were traceable to proceeds of the offenses of which he was convicted. The court further ordered Williams to pay more than 14 million dollars in restitution to the United States and to his former employer, Marian Gardens Tree Farm. Williams pleaded guilty on July 27, 2009.
According to court documents, Williams had worked for Marian Gardens Tree Farm in Groveland, Florida, for approximately 20 years. In recent years, he had served as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Since 2000, Williams had used this position of trust to embezzle 10.5 million dollars worth of funds from the company by falsifying checks, taking out a business credit card in the company’s name, and making large cash withdrawals that he told bank officials were to be used to pay “employee bonuses.” Instead, Williams had deposited the stolen funds into his personal accounts and then had used them to fund a lavish lifestyle of homes, luxury cars, jewelry, drugs, and elaborate vacations that had included private jet transportation. In addition to stealing this money funds from his employer, Williams further had failed to pay federal income taxes in the amount of $3,675,000 on the illegally obtained funds.
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigations, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.