CLEVELAND — A Macedonia man was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for defrauding three elderly Lake County residents out of nearly $575,000 while claiming to be a financial planner, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced Thursday.
According to U.S. District Court records, William E. Callam, 61, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay $574,146 in restitution to the victims. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud in January, according to court records.
Callam’s attorneys did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
"The conduct of this defendant is reprehensible," said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. "He stole the life savings of three elderly people to feed his own greed and lifestyle. The Justice Department is committed to protecting older Americans and holding accountable anyone who would defraud them."
According to court documents, while operating Blackstone Real Estate Group LLC and holding himself out as a financial planner and investment advisor, Callam claimed to three Lake County residents that Blackstone was in the business of financing loans for the purpose of rehabilitating commercial property, with the loans secured by mortgages on the property. He promised the prospective investors safe investments with an annual return of 6 percent and stated the investments were very liquid.
Callam then convinced investors to liquidate their annuities, insurance policies and other retirement assets to invest those funds in Blackstone. He created false statements purporting to reflect investors’ earnings. Instead, he used their money to maintain his personal lifestyle and enrich himself and family members, according to court documents.
A married couple in Mentor was defrauded out of $381,571 while an Eastlake resident was defrauded out of $192,575 as a result of the scheme going back to 2013.
In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court May 21, Callam’s attorneys argued for a shorter sentence, saying it would be difficult for Callam to pay restitution while in prison and that his actions were due to gambling and prescription drug addictions.
"Rather than pure greed, the offense conduct was employed to feed addictions which the defendant owns and acknowledges," the memorandum states.
The memorandum also states that Callam "has taken steps to reorder his life and no longer abuses medications."
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Callam has a history of defrauding people. He was convicted in 2007 of defrauding two senior citizens out of $68,000. Later that year he was convicted of defrauding four other people out of $49,000 in a similar scheme. He was later convicted of defrauding another person out of $55,000, according to court documents.
"Callum will be serving a significant amount of time behind bars for victimizing elderly folks out of their life savings," FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said. "The FBI will continue efforts to hold criminals accountable for preying on others for their own greed."
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.