Friday, October 23, 2020

Former Easthampton lawyer gets 5 years prison for defrauding clients

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A former Easthampton lawyer who used his clients’ money for personal expenses and took out fraudulent loans in their names was sentenced Friday to five and a half years in federal prison.

Phillip R. Williams also will serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni imposed the sentence.

Williams pleaded guilty in December 2019 to wire fraud, engaging in financial transactions greater than $10,000 of proceeds derived from criminal activity, money laundering and tax fraud.

He was suspended from practicing law in 2019 and disbarred earlier this year, according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.

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A case summary provided by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office says Williams in 2014 engaged in “numerous personal transactions” with $453,695 from two clients seeking a bank loan.

Between 2015 and 2017 he misused $230,500 given him by a client intending to purchase land.

In 2017 and 2018 Williams fraudulently obtained two loans in the client’s name: $340,000 from ProBuilder Financial LLC and $334,000 from Velocity Commercial Capital.

When ProBuilder sought repayment of its loans in 2019, Williams sent fraudulent emails attaching a mortgage on his home with his ex-wife’s forged signature and other falsified documents.

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Williams last year also defrauded Lore Investment Group LLC of approximately $1.1 million and attempted to defraud Battles Capital Investments of approximately $1.2 million. Both cases involved his purchase of a property in Saint Petersburg, Fla.

He also attempted fraudulently to obtain three loans, all over $1 million, from other commercial lenders.

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