Chesterton Tribune



Valpo man who admits defrauding California woman, wants out of jail, seeks bond set

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The Valparaiso man who’s admitted conning a Californian woman out of her life savings--who’s also admitted showing up at her home in the middle of the night with peculiar tools under suspicious circumstances--wants out of jail.

On Wednesday, William D. Cantrell Jr., through his attorney, Jennifer Soble, petitioned the U.S. District Court in Hammond to re-open the detention hearing held on Sept. 3, 2014, at which Cantrell was ordered held without bond at the Porter County Jail, pending his trial on federal charges of mail fraud and interstate stalking. Cantrell has been in custody ever since.

According to his Soble, however, “Mr. Cantrell has suffered from numerous health problems since being incarcerated, including neurological episodes.”

Soble does not specify the nature either of those “health problems” or of the “neurological episodes.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not objected to re-opening the detention hearing, Soble states in the motion.

On May 18, Cantrell agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud, after he admitted persuading a California woman in 2010 to invest more than $800,000 in an unregistered investment fund under his control, then--after apparently diverting the money to his own use--for the next two years issuing the woman false quarterly statements through the U.S. Postal Service showing purported net increases in her investment of more than $40,000.

The woman discovered the fraud in July 2013, after instructing Cantrell to make a distribution to her of $120,000. Cantrell prevaricated for several weeks, until finally telling her that “there was no money” anymore, that he’d lost it within weeks of her investment, and that the quarterly statements were “all lies.”

At that point the woman filed a civil suit against Cantrell in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, to which Cantrell--according to the judge who later awarded the woman default judgment--responded with a “minimum diligence,” except for one particular filing deemed “impertinent and scandalous” and actually stricken from the record.

Then, in the early morning hours of March 19, 2014, the woman discovered Cantrell outside the door of her home in California. Police officers who responded to the scene subsequently found Cantrell unconscious on the woman’s front lawn in possession of a drywall saw and a crowbar, items he’d purchased soon after arriving in Californian from Indiana.

Cantrell was subsequently indicted on one count of mail fraud and one of interstate stalking.

In exchange for Cantrell’s pleading guilty to mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has agreed to dismiss the charge of interstate stalking and to recommend the minimum applicable term of incarceration in federal prison. But three days after Cantrell entered into the plea agreement, on May 21, a judge on a different bench in the U.S. District Court ordered him to pay the woman a total of $2,695,076.02 in damages, including the actual investment she lost to him and three times that amount in treble damages.


Posted 6/5/2015




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