United States v. Pilon, No. 12-3159 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Through their companies, Pilon and her husband falsely represented that one investment program would generate significant returns that Pilon would use to pay off the investors’ mortgages within two years, and make a bonus cash payment to investors. Many investors refinanced mortgages to invest. With respect to another investment program, Pilon falsely represented that money would be invested in a high-yield fund and that investors would receive 100 percent on their investments within about 90 days. Pilon hinted at religious and humanitarian purposes. Pilon paid early investors’ mortgages with later investors’ money (a Ponzi scheme). About 40 people invested $4,000 to $110,000, losing a total of $967,702. The Illinois Department of Securities ordered Pilon to cease offering investments; she ignored the order. When the scheme unraveled and investors lost their homes, Pilon was indicted for wire fraud. Pilon, a member of a sovereign citizen movement, unsuccessfully moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Immediately before jury selection, Pilon stated her intent to plead guilty; when the government proffered the facts, Pilon denied everything. After testimony by eight government witnesses, Pilon admitted to the scheme and pleaded guilty. In calculating Pilon’s guideline range, the court applied an enhancement for abuse of a position of trust, declined to credit Pilon for acceptance of responsibility, and sentenced Pilon to 78 months’ incarceration, in the middle of the range, and imposed $967,702 in restitution. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.