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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Friday - March 10, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA MAN RECEIVES 35-YEAR SENTENCE
IN FEDERAL FRAUD CASE;
FIVE CO-DEFENDANTS ALSO SENTENCED

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced yesterday’s sentencings in a significant fraud case brought by the United States. On March 9, 2006, in Wilmington, N. C., Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced the six co-defendants in United States v. Watlington, et als.

Two defendants, DANIEL WATLINGTON, 55, of Fayetteville, N. C., and THOMAS PATRICK MCGLON, 70, of Atlanta, GA, had been convicted in December, 2005 after a jury trial. Yesterday, WATLINGTON was sentenced to 35 years in jail; MCGLON was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

The remaining four defendants, GARY J. DE BELLONIA, 61, of Henderson, NV, CLIFTON C. WEST, 49, an attorney, of Fayetteville, N. C., WILLIAM A. MUWWAKKIL, 64, of Fayetteville, N. C., and RICKEY L. JESSIE, 58, also of Fayetteville, N. C., pled guilty before trial. Yesterday, JESSIE received a probationary sentence; DE BELLONIA, WEST, and MUWWAKKIL were each sentenced to 60 months in jail.

The evidence presented at trial and in other proceedings in the case established that the defendants participated in an interstate and international conspiracy lasting almost ten years, in which they and others defrauded individuals seeking business loans out of millions of dollars in “up front” or “advance” fees. Victims throughout the United States, including North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico, and New Zealand, were tricked into paying these fees through defendants’ use of fake and fraudulent business entities and paperwork. One such entity was “Villei International Trust”, created by MCGLON and given false legitimacy through the use of private mail and phone services in the United States and the Bahamas.

WEST’s attorney trust bank account was used to give victims a false sense of security about their fraudulently induced payments and to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds of the fraud.

Defendants WATLINGTON and MCGLON had also been convicted at trial of crimes related to the use of counterfeit foreign financial instruments. They were convicted of conspiring to make false statements to the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1998 in connection with approximately $200 million in counterfeit Japanese government bonds. They were also convicted of a 2001 scheme to defraud a Philadelphia-area businessman with a $15 million counterfeit certificate of deposit. WATLINGTON was convicted of a 1999 bank fraud scheme involving counterfeit foreign bank checks.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Clay C. Wheeler and Dennis M. Duffy prosecuted the case for the United States.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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