Roger Dale Williams Sentenced To 63 Months in Prison for Phony Investment Scheme
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- On September 13, 2018, the Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Judge, sentenced Roger Dale Williams, 52, of Shelbyville, Kentucky, to serve 63 months in prison for conducting a scheme to defraud investors and obstructing the administration of federal tax laws. Williams was also ordered to pay $1,373,361.96 in restitution to victims that lost money as a result of the scheme.
Williams pleaded guilty in May 2018 to federal mail fraud and tax charges stemming from his scheme to defraud victims who believed that they were investing money in an “investment club” and, later, in church bonds. He began offering bogus investment opportunities in 2001 as part of membership in an “investment club,” which included opportunities to invest in stock purchases, business start-ups, and bonds. Many of his victims were elderly. In order to perpetuate the scheme, he also provided victims with false IRS forms pertaining to their purported investments.
More recently, Williams extended his fraud scheme to members of the King Branch Road Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where he had become a pastor. He solicited funds for the purchase of purported church bonds and claimed the funds would be used for the benefit of the church, particularly to pay off the church’s debt. However, Williams diverted the funds raised for the fake church bonds to his own personal use and benefit, as well as used the funds to make payments to investment club members to make it appear that their “investments” were generating income. Williams also convinced several victims to transfer their Individual Retirement Accounts into bogus investments under his control, and then siphoned off the funds for his own use and benefit, including paying household bills, vehicle payments and taking trips.
“Protecting seniors is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Victimization of our elderly citizens, by either abuse or financial exploitation, will not be tolerated and we will continue to prosecute vigorously anyone who commits these crimes,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey.
“For nearly 15 years, Roger Williams used every opportunity, including his position as a pastor, to victimize others for his personal gain. He preyed on the elderly and vulnerable, and obstructed the IRS in order to further his scheme. Justice was served today, as Williams has been held accountable for his actions,” said IRS, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line. “We will continue to pursue those who defraud American taxpayers.”
“Unfortunately, these Ponzi schemes, driven by greed, are commonplace,” said David McGinnis, Inspector in Charge for the Charlotte Division. “Investors must not simply rely upon a reputation or relationship when entrusting their funds to others. They should verify the qualifications of those to whom they consider entrusting their funds, especially if there are claims of guaranteed returns or that the investments will outperform the market.”
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.
This investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris represented the United States.