Former farmer finds four counts of phony financing foments 42 months in federal slammer

A prison sentence of 42 months was meted out to a former Illinois farmer after he was convicted of four counts of bank fraud totaling more than $500,000, the inspector general for the federal bank deposit insurance agency said Monday.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (FDIC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) said the sentence imposed on James R.R. Williams, 64, formerly of Cisco, Ill. (in Piattt County), and now living in Fort Meyers, Fla., was handed down by a federal judge in Springfield, Ill. on Nov. 17.

According to the OIG, during the 2016 growing season, Williams obtained a loan of approximately $4.6 million from two banks, First Security Bank and Gifford State Bank, for his farming operation, RJW Williams Farms, Inc. The OIG said the loans were collateralized by Williams’s assets, including grain.

OIG said Williams defrauded the banks by concealing grain sales from the banks and by instructing employees of grain elevator operator Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Niantic and Weldon, Ill., to issue checks in his son’s name, without his son’s knowledge, which were then deposited into an account held jointly by Williams and his son. Williams then used the checks for his own benefit.

According to Federal Judge Collen R. Lawless, between Oct. 20, 2014, and Feb. 1, 2017, Williams caused ADM to issue approximately 22 checks totaling $540,505.35 to his son for grain that was actually sold by Williams and was collateral for Williams’ outstanding loan.

The judge said Williams also knowingly violated a court order in Piatt County Circuit Court that was intended to freeze grain sale disbursements following a citation to discover assets hearing and that the bankruptcy petition filed by RJW Williams Farms, Inc., and signed by Williams as president contained numerous false assertions.

Williams had been indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2019; he pleaded guilty to the four bank fraud counts in May 2023.

Also Monday, the OIG reported that a California man was sentenced to more than 25 years in prison after being convicted on 100 felony accounts in a mortgage fraud scheme totaling $7 million. The OIG said Robert Sedlar was sentenced for his role in the scheme that targeted homeowners in San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento Counties. Sedlar was found guilty in May of conspiracy as well as multiple counts of filing a false document, grand theft, elder abuse, and prohibited acts by a foreclosure consultant. According to the FDIC OIG, every victim lost their homes as a result and the scheme resulted in a combined loss of more than $7 million.

Piatt County, Illinois, Farmer Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison for Bank Fraud

Attorney General Bonta Announces Sentencing in $7 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme