A federal judge has agreed to delay the sentencing of Ponzi schemer Wendell Spell until August.
U.S. District Judge William C. O’Kelley this week set a Aug. 20 sentencing date for Spell, who was originally scheduled to be sentenced on June 26 for one count of wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Spell, 50, is accused of bilking as many as 50 investors of more than $60 million through a scheme involving his Gainesville heavy equipment company. He pleaded guilty in March to defrauding an Alabama investor of $200,000 in a wire transfer to Spell’s bank account. Spell disputes the scope of the fraud that prosecutors allege.
Spell’s attorney, Paul Cognac, asked for an additional two months "to review voluminous business and financial records to adequately prepare for sentencing," according to a court filing in the case. The government did not oppose moving the sentencing date back.
Spell remains free at an undisclosed location on $25,000 bond. U.S. District Magistrate Judge Susan Cole agreed to place Spell’s address under seal after his attorney said Spell had received death threats.
According to a court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Spell ran a Ponzi scheme through North Georgia Equipment Sales and Cornerstone International Investments from February 2005 to October 2008.
During that time, he recruited investors to give him money to buy pieces of construction equipment, which he promised to sell at a profit. Spell told some investors he would split the profits "50-50," and in other cases promised to pay out interest of 36 percent annually, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Spell paid out "phantom profits" to some investors from the money given to him by others, and provided investors with bogus bills of sale.
At least 18 people have filed suit against Spell in Hall County Superior Court, alleging losses in the millions. Spell has not been served with the lawsuits because his location is unknown.