Merrillville man admits wire fraud, headed to prison
BY TERESA AUCH SCHULTZ firstname.lastname@example.org September 23, 2013 4:44PM
Eugene Wilson Sr., convicted on money structuring charges earlier this year, pleaded guilty towire fraud charges Monday in U.S. District Court. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: September 23, 2013 8:56PM
A Merrillville man admitted Monday he told an investor he would keep the man’s $500,000 safe in a bank account — but that, days later, he wired that money to people in Europe, never to be seen again.
Eugene Wilson Sr., 56, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Hammond.
“I messed up,” Wilson told U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano. “I didn’t keep my word.”
Wilson’s guilty plea came on the same day his criminal trial was supposed to start on eight counts of wire fraud. Although federal attorneys will dismiss the remaining counts as part of the plea agreement, Wilson has admitted defrauding his investors out of $1 million to $2 million. The eight counts named three victims, although the two counts to which he is pleading guilty cover just one of those victims.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Bell said Wilson met that victim, Mike Marden, through an acquaintance in the fall of 2006 and convinced Marden to put up $600,000 for “show money” for other investors. Wilson was trying to get $40 million to buy an ice company.
However, Marden agreed to the deal only on the condition that his money would remain in a safe bank account and that he would be repaid double the amount in 10 days.
Instead, Wilson said, he soon wired the money to people he had met in Europe who said could use it to help him raise even more money.
“I trusted guys,” said Wilson, the father of Merrillville High School graduate and NFL player Eugene Wilson Jr., . “I thought these guys were going to do what I thought they were going to do.”
Wilson said wired the money because he thought he would be able to make money for both himself and his victim.
Instead, “I ended up with nothing,” Wilson said.
He claimed his victim gave him the right to spend the final $100,000 to cover any expenses and that there was no limit on whether he could spend the money only on the ice company, but Bell said the two sides disagreed as to whether Wilson also improperly spent that portion of the money on his own personal expenses.
Wilson was convicted earlier this year on four counts of money structuring after a federal jury agreed with prosecutors that Wilson used three friends to illegally hide $178,000 from the government by breaking it up into more than 30 deposits, each of them for less than $10,000. Federal law requires banks to report any deposits of $10,000 or more. Lozano sentenced Wilson to 15 months on those counts, and he is set to report Monday to begin serving that sentence.
That penalty remains in effect, but as part of his plea deal, Wilson must drop his appeal in that case by Thursday. In return, Bell will recommend a 42-month sentence for the wire fraud counts to be served at the same time as the first sentence.
Wilson is also agreeing to pay restitution to his victims, though the amount has not been decided yet.