November 17, 2018
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Maine grandfather who defrauded investors of $5.6M faces prison time

Ken Gallager | Creative Commons 4.0
Ken Gallager | Creative Commons 4.0
The Warren B. Rudman U.S. Courthouse in Concord, New Hampshire.

CONCORD, New Hampshire — A 77-year-old York grandfather is scheduled to be sentenced to prison Wednesday for a $5.6 million fraud with 36 victims, three of whom lost their homes, according to federal court records.

William Bischoff pleaded guilty in March to committing the financial crimes through Genesis Investments Group, which was located on Lafayette Road in Portsmouth. Federal prosecutors said Bischoff falsely promised to invest clients’ money in real estate, structured legal settlements, high yield notes and a startup recycling business. Instead, said Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, Bischoff used the money to “line his own pockets and prop up his failed investments.”

In a motion filed with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire on Monday, Bischoff’s public defender Bjorn Lange said the U.S. Attorney has agreed to a request that Bischoff be sentenced to 48 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and restitution with interest waived. When he appears for sentencing Wednesday, Bischoff will also ask the court to serve his sentence either at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, or the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, so he can maintain contact with family and friends in New England.

The request notes Bischoff pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud and willfully failing to file federal income tax returns for several years. The terms of the plea included a 48-month prison sentence, but with the condition that he paid at least $100,000 in restitution. According to his lawyer’s motion, Bischoff has been unable to make the restitution.

Bischoff’s lawyer reports the amount of restitution owed is $5.6 million for the wire fraud conviction and $568,845 for the tax conviction.

In his court filing seeking a lower sentence for his client, Lang reports Bischofff has no criminal record, except when he was 22 and charged in Vermont with supplying alcohol to a minor. The motion seeking a 48-month sentence, less than recommended by federal guidelines, notes six people wrote letters to the federal court in support of Bischoff, including one of his victims. The court filing describes Bischoff as remorseful and reports that a counselor said the crimes were committed due “to an overly optimistic attitude to build wealth for his clients and investors, not deception for personal gain or greed.”

Bischoff met with FBI investigators and admitted he “had crossed the line” and his goal was to make whole anyone who invested with him, his lawyer reports to the court. Soon after, at Panera Bread in Newington, Bischoff again met with FBI agents and “provided them additional information about his misconduct,” his lawyer wrote. Since then, he argues, Bischoff has made efforts to raise money by liquidating assets and using contacts to generate proceeds.

“Bischoff unquestionably misappropriated, misused and squandered much of the money entrusted to him by his victims, only six of whom have been reimbursed,” his lawyer wrote.

However, Lange reports, some of the money went into tangible projects and investments his client thought he could liquidate for restitution, while media coverage of his case “discredited his reputation.” If he sells a waste management company, Bischoff could raise more than $4 million, he is unlikely to offend again and he cooperated with the investigation, his lawyer wrote.

“He will continue to do what he can on their behalf, including providing the government and probation office with any additional information necessary to facilitate full restitution,” according to the court motion, which the government is not opposing.

Bischoff is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire.

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Feature photo by Ken Gallager, used under Creative Commons license 4.0.

 


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