HOUSTON (CN) - A former attorney who ran a decade-long Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $7.8 million in restitution.
Billy Frank Davis pleaded guilty to wire fraud in October 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
In a packed courtroom filled with victims wearing red ribbons in solidarity, Davis was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
"In handing down the sentence, Judge Hittner went above the sentence recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
"At the hearing, Judge Hittner read from a number of victim impact statements, most from victims who had known Davis for 20 years or more.
"One letter read as follows: '[Davis] exploited the most fundamental of human relationships and did it both knowingly and intentionally. He deserves the same level of consideration he gave his friends as he was robbing all of us - none.'
"Another victim described Davis as a 'smooth-talking parasite or predator who will do harm to more honest people if ever back on the street. He has stolen most all of my retirement cash and destroyed my marriage. I do not sleep.'"
Davis, 68, ripped off more than 20 people by selling himself a real estate investor.
"While Davis did conduct some legitimate business activity during this time period, a substantial portion of the funds he solicited were simply part of a Ponzi scheme Davis was operating in an effort to satisfy old debts and to fund his personal lifestyle," prosecutors said in the statement.
"In acknowledging his criminal conduct at the time of his guilty plea, Davis admitted to using a variety of ploys to perpetuate his Ponzi scheme, all of which involved falsely representing to investors the existence or nature of various real estate investment opportunities, accepting funds from investors under such false pretenses, and then using the investor funds in a manner other than as represented to investors."
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