Federal Judge James Carr sentenced former investment executive William C. Davis yesterday to 15 1/2 years in prison, saying the Davis' case was "as serious as any crime that has come before me in this court."
The sentence imposed on Davis - the founder and former chief executive officer of a Sylvania investment firm - was the maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines. It was handed down during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Toledo.
The former Lambertville resident also was ordered to pay restitution of $14 million to the more than 250 investors who lost money in the collapse of Continental Capital Corp. and related businesses controlled by Davis.
But, Judge Carr acknowledged that the victims are likely to see "only a few nickels" of the restitution.
At yesterday's hearing, several victims spoke about the impact of Davis' crimes.
Retired police officer Thomas R. Davis, a brother of the defendant, told Judge Carr that he must work 60 hours a week at several jobs.
"I can tell you I know what it feels like to be a victim," said the Findlay resident who invested $40,000 that he and his wife had saved for retirement.
He, like other victims, talked about waiting nearly five years for Davis' day in court.
"To my brother, I say, 'God forgive you because I cannot,'•" he said.
Retired railroad worker Robert Dempsey, of Toledo, testified that he took a job driving 300,000 miles a year after losing $170,000 invested in Davis' businesses.
"Keep him away from other people where he can't cause any harm," he implored the judge. "I feel everything that he did was intentional."
The sentence was pronounced nearly 13 months after Davis, 61, entered guilty pleas to 25 criminal charges for defrauding investors over a nearly 10-year period that ended in 2003.
The counts included mail fraud, bank fraud, and theft from a pension plan.
Victims included doctors, corporate executives, iron workers, and police officers. Many had entrusted Davis with money they intended to use in retirement.
Judge Carr said Davis defrauded his victims and that his actions were "deliberate, willful, and protracted" and "extinguished what should have been [the victims'] golden years."
Appearing in a blue prison uniform, the slight, graying Davis said, "If it was within my power, I would repair the relationships and damages and repay the money that I have taken. I am truly sorry for what I have done."
He told Judge Carr that the nearly two years he has spent in maximum security in federal prison has been difficult.
"I lost all my assets," he said. "I lost my family home. I lost my wife. I lost my securities license. Certainly my dignity. Really my whole life. I have been humbled. I'm a broken man. I have little time to pick up the pieces. It is not a very good time for me."
In asking for the maximum punishment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Karol described Davis as a financial predator who probably would return to bilking people if released from prison early.
"He has ruined many lives and many dreams and hopes," he said. " He had no limits on who he was defrauding."
In a hearing leading up to the sentencing, Judge Carr concluded that Davis had failed to accept responsibility for the crimes and wasn't eligible for a reduction in the sentencing range.
In asking for a lighter sentence, Davis explained that he didn't intentionally defraud clients and always thought that he could eventually repay investors.
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