Former Lake County Man Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Prison for Role in $1.6 Million Investment Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 23, 2013|
CHICAGO—A former Lake County man was sentenced today to more than six years in federal prison for cheating at least 20 victims of approximately $1.6 million in an investment fraud scheme. The defendant, William Block, promised investors substantial profits, in some cases up to 300 percent returns over just six months, but instead used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle.
Block, 54, formerly of Lake Forest, who has been in custody since he was arrested in November 2008, was sentenced to 75 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber. Block was also ordered to forfeit approximately $1.6 million, as well as to pay restitution totaling approximately $1.9 million, which also includes the proceeds of a separate $300,000 bank fraud. Block did not admit guilt but was found guilty by Judge Leienweber earlier this month after conceding that the government could provide him guilty.
The government’s proof established that between May 2002 and November 2008, Block operated an investment fraud scheme in which he falsely told at least 20 individual investors that if they gave him money, ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, he could pay fees and costs to recover certain money to which he was entitled and that the investor would reap a financial reward. As a result, Block fraudulently obtained about $1.6 million from his victims.
In fact, Block’s representations were bogus, and he converted the victims’ funds for a variety of personal and living expenses, including cigars, limousine services, clothing, travel, wine, and a trip on a private plane to view a yacht that he represented he was considering for purchase.
As relevant conduct at sentencing, the government also established that Block engaged in a separate bank fraud scheme in 2007 by using a $300,000 check that he knew had “bounced” and then using at least $190,000 of the proceeds to obtain an official check from AmCore Bank. He used the proceeds from that official check for a variety of personal expenses, including cigars, a $2,600 watch, rounds of golf, and payments to a girlfriend.
The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kaarina Salovaara and Jessica Romero.
The case falls under the umbrella of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.