Will County couple to go to prison for investment fraud
From Staff Reports September 12, 2012 1:46PM
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:27AM
CHICAGO — A Will County couple will go to prison for an investment fraud that swindled more than $1 million from some 40 victims.
James Pilon, 68, of Joliet was sentenced Wednesday to 53 months in prison. His wife, Verna Pilon, 59, was sentenced last week to 78 months in prison, federal authorities reported.
The couple also was ordered to pay $967,702 in restitution.
The couple “lived a life of ease while others were being pushed out onto the streets,” U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said in imposing sentence for James Pilon.
His lower sentence resulted primarily from an early guilty plea to the fraud scheme, and he was ordered to begin serving his sentence on Nov. 7. Verna Pilon, who has been in federal custody since 2010, pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme on the second day of trial in May after eight victims testified against her.
“The victims in this case were hard-working individuals who did not have money to spare, and indeed, many refinanced their homes in order to make an investment with the defendants,” said Gary Shapiro, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who announced the sentences with William Monroe, acting special agent-in-charge of the Chicago office of the FBI.
The Will County state’s attorney’s office and the Monee Police Department assisted.
Court records show the investigation of the Pilons, of Monee at the time, began in 2005 when the Illinois Securities Department ordered them to cease selling investments. Instead of complying, the couple continued to solicit and obtain investment funds through 2005 and ’06.
In fact, authorities said, neither investment program existed. As a result, some investors’ mortgage payments were never made and their homes were foreclosed.
Among the funds the Pilons spent on themselves were $14,000 for a diamond ring, $54,000 for a Cadillac SUV, and $125,000 for the down payment on a California residence once owned by tennis player Andre Agassi.
In court, Verna Pilon was identified as a member of the so-called Washitaw nation sovereign group and she repeatedly maintained that the U.S. District Court had no jurisdiction over her.