Former Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston recently agreed to repay $1.2 million he got from being part of Ron Wilson's Ponzi scheme.
Preston was one of the "net-winners" in Wilson's $57.4 million silver investment scheme that victimized nearly 800 people, including Wilson's brother and daughter, from the Upstate and across America.
Preston invested $192,000 in Wilson's business and withdrew $1.4 million, according to court documents.
A U.S. District Court judge approved on June 13 the civil action that requires Preston to repay the money.
Unlike many others being sued by a receiver appointed to recover money for the victims, Preston is identified as a promoter of the scheme and not just a "net-winner" of an investor.
Ron Wilson's Atlantic Bullion & Coin scam was one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in state history, run for a decade by Wilson, a former Anderson County Council member as well as a former head of the national Sons of Confederate Veterans and a former South Carolina Board of Education member.
Preston, now Bamberg County administrator, on Thursday referred questions to his Greenville attorney, Jim Bannister, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a previous filing, the receiver's office, headed by Greenville attorney Beattie Ashmore, alleged that Preston hosted 'silver parties' at his home to entice investors.
"Preston did not disclose to investors his failure to understand even the most basic facts about the investment," according to the document.
He also offered personal guarantees, which he either could not or did not intend to honor, to investors, according to court filings.
Wilson told investors that he monitored "key indicators" that silver prices would change and he could get tremendous profits for those who trusted him. He bought silver for less than a handful of clients, telling the vast majority that their silver was held at a Delaware depository, a depository that had never heard of Wilson. Investors who wanted to cash out were given money from new investors, but had to wait 30 days and give a reason for the withdrawal, according to court documents.
During the scheme, the price of silver rose dramatically, giving credence to at least some of his returns, but which still outpaced the market. But the rising price of silver, and having almost none to speak of, doomed the scheme and it fell apart in March 2012 when a criminal complaint letter was made public.
Victims of the scheme may get a fraction of their investment back. As of November, the receiver's office expected to distribute about $7 million to those who had applied to get some repayment.
In court filings from June, Preston said he agreed he had profited, but noted that state and federal authorities also missed knowing that Wilson was running a fraudulent scheme.
In a separate filing signed by Preston in June, he agrees to the repayment, which includes an interest rate of 0.68 percent.
Wallace Lindsey Howell, a Wilson associate, was sentenced to a year in prison for mail fraud in connection to the Ponzi scheme. The receiver's office is seeking $3.5 million from Howell now that he has been released and he is required to pay at least $100 a month toward the total. Howell, who is on probation, was recently given court permission to go on a cruise to the Bahamas this October, paid for by his daughter.
Wilson has been sentenced to more than 17 years for mail fraud as part of his Ponzi scheme. Wilson is listed as being an inmate at a Kentucky minimum security prison with a release date of May 2030, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Follow Mike Ellis on Twitter @MikeEllis_AIM