Saying the effect of Mark O. Wittenmyer's crimes was “devastating on our community,” a federal judge on Friday sentenced the former Holland businessman to 78 months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $8 million in restitution to the victims of his fraud.
Wittenmyer, 57, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in September, 2016, to seven counts of money laundering, and one count each of conspiracy, access device fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. As part of a plea agreement, Judge Jeffrey Helmick dismissed 39 other charges.
Federal prosecutors said Wittenmyer convinced investors to entrust him with large dollar amounts, some of which Wittenmyer used for personal expenses, and much of which was lost in the risky business ventures.
One of the victims, Roger Grieve, told the court that among the props in Wittenmyer's luxurious office was a Bible as well as photos of his Stone Oak mansion and lots of high-tech toys. The message, Mr. Grieve said, was, “Listen to me and this lifestyle can be yours. All I need is your investment.”
He said Wittenmyer was very good at what he did, which was not running a software company but “running a complicated fraud scheme.”
Judge Helmick said that what Wittenmyer did was “a tragedy and it was not necessary,” noting that Wittenmyer did not have a drug or alcohol problem fueling his behavior.
“It was greed and recklessness, as far as I can tell, that drove your conduct,” Judge Helmick said.
The court put the number of Wittenmyer's victims at 30 or more and concluded he was responsible for nearly $13.5 million in losses.
Wittenmyer apologized to the court and to his victims, saying that if he had been “a little more conservative, a little more cautious,” he wouldn't be in the position he's in.
Defense attorney Dave Klucas noted that Wittenmyer had no prior criminal history and had repaid approximately $2.6 million, some of which was ordered in civil judgments against him.
Mr. Klucas acknowledged that his client had engaged in “plenty of bad conduct” but said Wittenmyer was running a real business and had used some of the investors' money in an unsuccessful attempt to acquire cutting-edge software technology.
Still, he said, Wittenmyer admits “that people were lied to, misled, defrauded, victimized. We know it. He knows it.”
Co-defendant Arvel Ray Henderson, II, a real estate agent from Toledo, is scheduled to go on trial next month on charges of money laundering conspiracy and five counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
Three others — Douglas Boyce of Maumee, Robert Milam of League City, Texas, and Lonny Remmers of Corona, Calif. — previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy for their roles. Boyce was placed on probation for three years while Milam was sentenced to 14 months in prison and Remmers to 12 months in prison.
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