August 04, 2020

Ex-Mainer gets 2 years for investment fraud Texas man sentenced in Franklin County scam

FARMINGTON – A former Maine insurance agent was sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding elderly investors of more than $1 million.

Richard Walls, 58, of Lubbock, Texas, was ordered Monday to serve two years of a seven-year sentence and to pay restitution to his victims.

Justice Ellen Gorman also placed Walls on eight years of probation and prohibited him from having anything to do with securities or other investments.

A Franklin County jury convicted Walls this month of various securities violations from 1996 to 1998 for defrauding elderly customers of their life savings and retirement funds.

Most of the 25 victims were elderly residents of Franklin, Somerset and Kennebec counties who had been Walls’ insurance customers for 10 to 25 years.

“I think it unlikely any of these investors will ever see any of this money again,” Gorman said.

The courtroom was packed with victims and family members who asked Gorman to impose a stiff sentence, as well as Walls’ family members and supporters who asked for leniency.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz said one victim was in his mid-70s when he invested $97,000 with Walls.

The man has had to go back to work 50 hours a week at the age of 80 to pay for his wife’s medical bills, Diaz said.

Mary Howes of Jay told Gorman that Walls “is the worst kind of criminal” who lost a significant portion of her parents’ savings.

“He isn’t a masked man who breaks into your home to steal things. Instead, he attempts to become your friend,” she said.

Others spoke in support of Walls, describing him as kind and generous, a good Christian and a family man. Walls also apologized.

“I’m sincerely sorry to these people for what has happened,” Walls said.

Walls’ attorney, Peter Evans, said Walls will appeal his conviction.

He is free on $10,000 bail.

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