Sylvania investment exec who defrauded clients of millions is released from prison

A former investment executive who defrauded clients of millions of dollars while running what prosecutors described as a Ponzi scheme at the now-shuttered Sylvania-based Continental Capital Corp. was released from prison last week.

William C. Davis, 72, in September 2007, was sentenced to 15½ years in prison on counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, and theft from a pension plan, among other crimes. At the time the former founder and chief executive of the northwest Ohio investment firm was ordered to pay $14 million in restitution to more than 250 investors who lost money because of the fall of Continental Capital.

His incarceration ended this week when, on Wednesday, he was let go from federal prison on supervised release, according to court records.

The exact conditions leading up to his release this week remained unclear, but Davis’ former attorney, John Minock, said he believes credit for good behavior and time served were likely factors.

“Looks like it’s pretty close to normal to me,” Mr. Minock said over the phone.

Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, didn’t immediately know the conditions of Davis’ case, but he said the timing of his release was not unusual.

He referred further comment to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Both the bureau of prisons and the U.S. probation offices in Cleveland and Toledo declined to comment.

Thomas Zaremba worked as a trustee on the case with the law firm Roetzel & Andress. As a trustee, Mr. Zaremba helped recover funds for investors who lost money in the case. When he was sentenced, Davis was ordered to pay $14 million in restitution. Mr. Zaremba said he doesn’t know how much Davis actually paid in restitution.

With the victims losing money, Mr. Zaremba knows the loss had an adverse effect on them at the time.

“It really created an enormous amount of hardship for the customers,” Mr. Zaremba said over the phone.

Davis submitted a motion for a reduced sentence in January 2016, and he wrote a memorandum on why he didn’t pose a threat to society. He cited his age — having turned 70 in April of that year — and the Department of Justice’s calculations on how much money it takes to keep elderly inmates in prison. In using the department’s calculations, Davis said that it cost taxpayers more than $500,000 to keep him in prison.

The federal government responded two months later in opposition to Davis’ request, arguing he did not qualify for a reduced sentence.

When Davis replied to the opposition in April 2016, he said he felt the full 15½-year sentence was harsh for a first-time offender. In July 2016, U.S. District Judge James G. Carr denied Davis’ request.

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