Wilson pleads guilty to mail fraud in Ponzi scheme - FOX Carolina 21

Wilson pleads guilty to mail fraud in Ponzi scheme

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A former Anderson County councilman appeared in federal court in Greenville Monday morning to enter a plea in connection to a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme investigation.

Ronnie Wilson, 65, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud as part of a plea agreement.

Wilson pleaded guilty to those charges as an individual and as president of Atlantic Bullion & Coin, based in Easley.

A judge said Wilson could face a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine as an individual. If sentenced to prison, Wilson wouldn't be eligible for parole, a judge said.

As head of Atlantic Bullion & Coin, a judge said Wilson could be fined $500,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from investments.

The plea agreement comes with several stipulations including Wilson must continue to cooperate with investigators and he could also be required to take polygraph tests.

Authorities said Wilson duped more than 900 investors across 25 states into thinking they were buying silver and making big profits. They said Wilson never bought any precious metals and was paying investors' lofty dividends with other investors' money.

"Wilson did not buy silver like he was supposed to," said U.S. District Attorney Bill Nettles. "Instead, he lied to clients about their silver being stored in Delaware."

Prosecutors said investors lost nearly $60 million of the $90 million they invested with Wilson.

Prosecutors said Wilson altered receipts to increase the purchase price of the silver when a customer went to cash it in so he could keep the scheme going.

Beattie Ashmore, the attorney appointed to handle the liquidation of Wilson's assets, said Wilson has been cooperative, but that there is a lot of money that is still missing.

"It's a very complicated process," Ashmore said. "It will take quite some time."

Ashmore said he is confident the court will order full restitution, but he is not sure how much money the defrauded investors will receive.

"Any asset of Ron Wilson, we will aggressively go after those assets, turn those assets into money and distribute that money to the victims," Ashmore said.

A sentencing date for Wilson was not immediately scheduled.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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