CISCO — A Cisco farmer is due to appear in federal court after a grand jury indicted him on charges of bank fraud and concealment of bankruptcy assets.
The indictment against James R. Williams, 59, was handed down in June and the U.S. Department of Justice said Williams’ trial is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Urbana, with a pretrial conference set for Sept. 19. Williams is free on bond and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John C. Milhiser in a statement said that, beginning in December 2015, Williams defrauded both First Security Bank and Gifford State Bank. It’s alleged the Piatt County farmer submitted false information on a balance sheet to secure a $4.6 million loan for his business, RJW Williams Farms, Inc.
“As a result, the loss to the banks exceeded $500,000,” the news release said. “In addition, the indictment alleges that, beginning Oct. 2016, Williams concealed more than $500,000 in grain sales from creditors of the bankruptcy estate of RJW Williams Farms, Inc.”
Sharon J. Paul, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Williams had instructed employees of an Archer Daniels Midland grain elevator in Niantic to issue checks to his son. Those checks were then deposited into an account held jointly by both Williams and his son.
If convicted on the bank fraud charges, Williams could face up to a $1 million fine and a prison sentence of 30 years. If convicted of concealing bankruptcy assets, he could be fined up to $250,000 and sent to prison for up to five years.
“Abuse of the bankruptcy process undermines the public’s confidence in the bankruptcy system,” said Nancy J. Gargula, United States Trustee for Southern and Central Illinois and Indiana.