NEWARK, N.J. - A Naples man who was the top recruiter in a $930 million Ponzi scheme has been sentenced in New Jersey to a year and a day in prison for not reporting more than $6 million in commissions he received.
Sydney Williams was not accused of knowing about the Ponzi scheme operated by Nevin Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to securities fraud and money laundering. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Williams with failing to pay more than $2 million in taxes owed on more than $6 million in commissions he received.
“I always tried to live an honest life and be faithful to my core values,” Williams said during his appearance in U.S. District Court in Newark on Tuesday. “I’ve been a disappointment to myself, to my family and to my peers and I blame no one but myself.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton sentenced him to the extra day in prison to allow him to be released after serving 85 percent of his sentence; he would have had to serve a full term if the sentence had been one year.
Wigenton denied Williams’ request to serve half the sentence under home confinement.
Williams had faced a maximum three-year sentence. The judge noted his cooperation with investigators after his arrest and his lack of a prior criminal record.
“I believe this was an aberration, but the part I do find troubling is why you would not be truthful about your income if you believed it was legitimate,” she said.
Shapiro allegedly siphoned at least $35 million from the scheme for his personal use, and made claims of payments to University of Miami athletes that triggered an NCAA investigation. Williams was a top recruiter for Shapiro and admitted getting more than 60 people to invest with him.