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Press Release

Federal Trial Scheduled for Piatt County Farmer Charged with Bank Fraud, Concealing Bankruptcy Assets

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

URBANA, Ill. – Trial for a Piatt County farmer has been scheduled for Nov. 18, 2019, after a federal grand jury indicted James R. Williams, 59, of Cisco, Ill., on charges of bank fraud and concealment of bankruptcy assets. 

The indictment, returned last month, alleges that beginning in December 2015, Williams defrauded both First Security Bank and Gifford State Bank by submitting false information on a balance sheet used to secure a $4.6 million loan for his business, RJW Williams Farms, Inc. As a result, the loss to the banks exceeded $500,000. In addition, the indictment alleges that beginning in October 2016, Williams concealed more than $500,000 in grain sales from creditors of the bankruptcy estate of RJW Williams Farms, Inc. Williams allegedly instructed employees of an ADM grain elevator in Niantic, Ill., to issue checks to his son, which were then deposited into an account held jointly by Williams and his son.

During a court appearance on July 23, before Chief U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow in Urbana, a trial date of Nov. 18, 2019 was set. Williams’ next scheduled court appearance in federal court in Urbana, is on Sept. 19, 2019, for a pretrial conference. Williams remains on bond.

If convicted of bank fraud, the offense carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. For conviction of the offense of concealment of bankruptcy assets, the penalty is up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

“Abuse of the bankruptcy process undermines the public’s confidence in the bankruptcy system,” stated Nancy J. Gargula, United States Trustee for Southern and Central Illinois and Indiana (Region 10).  “We appreciate U.S. Attorney Milhiser’s commitment to helping preserve the integrity of the bankruptcy system in the Central District of Illinois.”

The U.S. Trustee for Region 10 referred the alleged bankruptcy fraud to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The charges were investigated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General in collaboration with the Central Illinois Bankruptcy Fraud Working Group coordinated by the U.S. Trustee. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Reiter is representing the government in the criminal prosecution.

The U.S. Trustee Program is the component of the Justice Department that protects the integrity of the bankruptcy system by overseeing case administration and litigating to enforce the bankruptcy laws. Region 10 is headquartered in Indianapolis, with additional offices in South Bend, Ind., and Peoria, Ill.

Updated July 31, 2019

Financial Fraud