By Ann C. Logue
For the second week in a row, the SEC didn’t announce any actions against wrongdoers, but the CFTC was heaping additional sanctions on a convicted fraudster. William S. Evans III of Harrodsville, KY was ordered to return $17 million to investors in his Ponzi scheme, billed as a commodities trading fund. Of course, that fund was unregistered, because why bother with details like that when encouraging people to take out a home equity loan in order to fund your new boat?
The scheme started in 2018 and was shut down in 2020. Evans was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison in 2021. Not satisfied with a plain old prison sentence, Evans doubled down by refusing to report to the minimum-security prison camp in Ashland, KY where he was assigned. He was arrested in Florida and is apparently awaiting a move to Kentucky.
One of the many great online databases is the Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator. The vast majority of financial crimes are federal crimes, so the Inmate Locator is a who’s who of the greats. (Most violent crimes, such as murder, are state crimes.) Because secret detention is not permitted in the United States, the names and locations of prisoners are public records. Evans is recorded as “Not in BOP Custody” with release date unknown.
In general, federal prisons are nicer than state prisons, in part because they have fewer inmates with violent histories. It’s all relative, of course, but when lawyers are negotiating sentences for their clients, they will prioritize a minimum-security federal prison close to the inmate’s family over any other type of facility. El Chapo would not be welcome at that type of facility, but Evans was. By skipping out on his report date, it assuredly not where he will end up.
Evans is currently 69, so maybe he figured he had nothing to lose. The CFTC can fine him and enjoin him from the industry, but does it matter? Probably not. Evans did the crime, and he is apparently willing to be sentenced to a lot of time.