A Look Back: Joel’s Sentencing Brief, Part 1

I started writing this post when I discovered Joel’s sentencing brief on the criminal case docket back in September 2015.  It’s been quite a project since the brief is 249 pages, more than half of which are exhibits.  So, I’ve decided to chop this up into several parts.  I’ll tag the posts with “Joel’s Sentencing Brief” so if you miss a part, you’ll be able to find it easily.

As usual, all page numbers listed are the PDF’s page number, not the page number listed at the bottom of the printed page.  It’s easier for you to jump to the appropriate page this way.

Part 1 – Too Old to Die in Jail

Joel Gillis is seventy-five years old, in poor health, and poses zero risk of recidivism.

75 is the new 60. Coincidentally, 60 is about when he started screwing people over. And he continued screwing them while he was 74. I highly doubt that he was in perfect health at 74 and then suddenly doing poorly at 75.  He was scamming the living shit out of people right up until he was stopped from doing it anymore.  I’d hazard to say that he would have kept it at it right up until the moment he keeled over and bit the big one.

He accepted responsibility for the instant offense conduct before he was ever charged with a crime, and has made every effort to assist the Court appointed SEC Receiver in recovering assets for investors who lost money.

While that may be technically true, Joel shouldn’t get any cookies for this.  Between the time the SEC subpoenaed him and the time he was formally charged, he:

  • Failed to issue August checks to many of his victims.
  • Bounced $3 million in checks to those who actually did receive them.
  • Lied about hiring an outside firm to issue checks, then fired said fictitious firm when the transition did not go smoothly enough.
  • Drained the bank accounts by the end of August.
  • Promised that checks would go out by October.
  • Cleaned out the accounts and moved them to another bank right before the Receiver was able to freeze them.
  • Raised an additional $4 million dollars at the end of September.
  • Refused to cooperate until he got a plea deal. He changed his mind after the Receiver’s lawyer talked to his lawyer.

These are not the signs of someone who has accepted responsibility, they’re the signs of someone who couldn’t fucking accept that it was over.

He spent forty-plus years as a loving father, a faithful husband, and an honest businessman, and the past year doing everything we ask defendants to do to accept responsibility.

::cough:: And then suddenly he decided to scam people out of their life savings?  He woke up one morning after forty years as an honest human being, rolled out of bed and proudly declared that he would spend his remaining years being a lying, thieving asshole? Sounds like a fantastic retirement plan.

He respectfully asks the Court to impose a sentence that leaves some possibility that he will be released during his lifetime.

It’s not our fault he’s old and horrible.  If he didn’t want to spend the rest of his natural life in jail then maybe he shouldn’t have scammed people until he was too old to do the time for it.

In 1996, Mr. Gillis and Mr. Wishner formed a legitimate business called Nationwide Automated Systems, Inc. (NASI). NASI sold Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and split the transaction fees with the owners of the locations hosting the ATMs.

Like a fairy tale!  Except that it’s my understanding that they should have been registered with the SEC for this from the word go.  They waited two years and then never followed through with filing the required reports.

Five years later, Mr. Gillis and Mr. Wishner were presented with an opportunity to partner with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Given the scope of the anticipated contract, NASI needed to solicit investors to purchase more ATMs. NASI raised $11 million to fund the Starwood contract, but the contract never materialized. Too embarrassed to let the investors know that NASI did not secure the Starwood contract, Mr. Gillis and Mr. Wishner began paying older investors with the money they had raised. This was the beginning of the Ponzi scheme, which began in 2001.

Never materialized? Was it supposed to simply appear out of thin air?  No, bitches, that contract fell through.  And that’s assuming that it was anything more than Starwood Hotels just inquiring or asking for a quote.  Did these guys raise $11 million on something that wasn’t committed on any level imaginable?

Mr. Gillis now stands before this Court because of a quixotic lapse of judgment, not because he is evil or because he was overcome with greed. He gambled with $11 million after losing the Starwood contract, and he fully recognizes the harm that he caused the investors, his family, his loved ones, and his community. According to Psychotherapist Cynthia Winn, Mr. Gillis’s gambling addiction and risk-taking personality led to the commission of this offense.

Not just one lapse in judgment. Every lie he told, every contract he sold, every check he cashed, every report he forged, every phony ATM location he picked out of the phone book, etc was another lapse in judgment. For thirteen years, he woke up almost every day and had a nearly never-ending series of lapses in judgments that only ended when he went to sleep that same night. If you started a drinking game based on Joel’s lapses in judgment, you’d have alcohol poisoning shortly after he got to work.  If you went back in time one month for every one of Joel’s lapses in judgment you’d be trying to find a prehistoric wifi hotspot right now.

And what’s this about gambling with the $11 million? Like literally walked into a casino and gambled with it? Or gambled with it by using it to start a Ponzi scheme? You need to be more specific so I have a focus for my outrage. Ed…why would you let a gambling addict handle the money without oversight? WHY?


  1. Not that it makes any difference… as it changes nothing about the case or my opinion of Gillis… but if you read through the new class action against CNB, you will learn that even as checks were bouncing Joel Gillis was refunding $60K to Fitzwilliam, refunding his investment in imaginary ATM.

    The CNB class action out of NYC is a good read to understand everything that was going on behind the curtain. NASI could not have existed as long as it did without the complicity of Fitzwilliam as an agent of the CNB branch.

    The class action is Federal (unlike the State of CA) and being filed in NYC Federal court system, by what appears to be a firm that is far better prepared than the last firm to have a go at this one.

    The allegations presented, discovery undertaken, and care employed in crafting this complaint is damn impressive.

    1. I’m currently ranting about the character letters for the final part in the series. I’ve revised it four times. I am a raging bitch who has literally spent the better part of today on it. And part of last evening.

      Couldn’t be happier that we’ve got a class action I can follow without going bankrupt. I plan on working on it tomorrow night after my niece goes to bed.

      Joel didn’t have a proper handle on things like “math,” so it’s not at all surprising that his co-conspirators were carrying him at some point. Thank you for the heads up. I can’t wait until tomorrow.

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