Aurora Man Convicted of Defrauding Non-Profit of More Than $880,000 Intended to Address Cleveland Food Desert
U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman announced today that Ronald Wilson, age 47, of Vickery, was sentenced by Judge Jack Zouhary to 90 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $3,977,919.39 in restitution with co-defendant Sherri Wilson after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and embezzlement of government property on February 11, 2020.
Additionally sentenced in this matter were Sherri Wilson, age 31, of Vickery, and Murphy Feeny, age 32, of Toledo. Sherri Wilson was sentenced to 45 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and embezzlement of government property. Murphy Feeny was placed on probation for a term of 3 years after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution.
According to court documents, beginning in 2016, Defendants Ronald and Sherri Wilson developed a scheme to recruit investors from around the world who sought to invest in Toledo’s residential real estate market. These investors were told by Ronald and Sherri Wilson that, if they sent the Wilsons money, the Wilsons would purchase properties for the investor, register a limited liability company (LLC) purportedly controlled by the investor, rehabilitate the properties, obtain tenants, and manage rental income on the investors’ behalf.
In actuality, the Wilsons routinely gave themselves control over the subject LLCs, misdirected investor funds, withheld income, took payment for rehabilitation projects, but never completed ordered work, defrauded an insurance company, engaged in “check-kiting,” and even embezzled United States Department of Housing and Urban Development funds meant to benefit low-income tenants in the City of Toledo. Many of the properties involved in this case, including a downtown hotel, have been left derelict and uninhabitable. Tenants of the now-uninhabitable properties –including vulnerable Section 8 recipients – have been unnecessarily displaced as a result of the defendants’ actions.
In sum, Ronald and Sherri Wilson caused millions of dollars in losses to investors, as described in court filings.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Melching and Gene Crawford.