On the same day that a Miami-based advisor received $125,000 from a retired teacher and church pastor for real estate investments, he used $10,000 of that money to pay his credit card bill and make a payment on his BMW, says the SEC.
Now, Paul Donnahue Williamson, of Palmetto Bay, Fla., has agreed to pay almost $800,000 in disgorgement fees after allegedly orchestrating a Ponzi scheme.
Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Williamson with siphoning money from his investment fund for personal use and defrauding his investors, which included retired local teachers and law enforcement officers.
The action was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Williamson also faces federal investment advisor fraud charges related to the scheme.
The SEC alleges that Williamson conducted a Ponzi scheme with money he raised for the Sterling Investment Fund, which purported to invest in mortgages and properties in Florida and Georgia.
Williamson allegedly assured at least 17 investors that they would receive 8 percent to 12 percent annual returns in exchange for no risk. Many of Williamson’s investors were retired public sector employees seeking safe havens for their retirement savings.
The SEC alleges that rather than invest the money as promised, Williamson used the assets to pay for personal expenses and to make supposed returns to investors, sending them fictitious valuations and false statements of account to conceal his activities.
According to Finra's BrokerCheck, Williamson previously worked in Miami for OneAmerica Securities, MML Investors Services, and Hartford Equity Sales Co. In 2012, Williamson voluntarily resigned from Hartford Equity Sales amidst an internal investigation into allegations that he made inaccurate entries into the firm's appointment tracking system.
Florida's Office of Financial Regulation is seeking a permanent bar and restitution for Williamson's investors.