Stanford mayor sues accused swindler

August 27, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - A civil suit filed against accused swindler Janssen D. Willhoit by Mayor Eddie Carter, one of the investors claiming to be duped, will be heard in court today, where a default judgment of $55,000 in restitution could be handed down.

Mayor Carter filed the suit in June as a citizen after Willhoit allegedly scammed him into investing in Net City, an investment company Willhoit said was connected with National City Bank and had promised high interest rates to snare investors.

In his civil suit filed by Stanford attorney Kirk Correll, Carter alleges that Willhoit should pay $55,000 plus interest in restitution for the fraud. The case will be decided by Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette.

Willhoit was arrested June 9 on charges related to the scam and held in the Lincoln County Regional Jail on a $100,000 cash bond. Stanford police estimated Willhoit, of Lexington, had taken $150,000 from three Stanford investors, but that others had been duped across the state.


"We had three victims here in town, four in Cynthiana, two victims in Lexington, one victim in Covington," Stanford Detective Rick Edwards told The Advocate in June.

Willhoit's National City Bank accounts were frozen soon after, but it was doubtful at that time the full amount would be recovered, said Edwards. Willhoit had apparently used the funds to maintain a comfortable lifestyle, Edwards said.

Carter told police he had discovered the fraud after calling National City Bank to check on his Net City accounts. At that time, he was told his account number was false. Barbara Leigh and Stanford City Council member Jamie Leigh were also investors.

Investors had been reassured of Net City's legitimacy through forged documents stating it was affiliated with Met Life Insurance company, Securities Investor Protection Corp. and NASD. The ensuing investigation proved those claims false.

Willhoit was indicted by a Lincoln County grand jury Aug. 13. on three counts of committing fraudulent acts pertaining to securities, three counts of failing to register as a broker-dealer, agent or investment advisor, three counts of failing to register securities and three counts of theft by deception over $300.

Arraignment in Willhoit's criminal case has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 10.

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