The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that ex-Evergreen Corporation President David Willan will serve his full ten year prison sentence for securities violations under the state’s racketeering laws. Writing for the 5-2 court, Justice Judith L. French noted that the court found that the three convictions unambiguously apply and subject Willan to a mandatory RICO sentence of ten years.
Willan’s attorney, Andrea Whitaker, called the ruling “extremely disappointing” and stated that the case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court on the question of whether the mandatory sentence is constitutional. The appeal will be grounded in a 2013 United States Supreme Court case that held that all facts in a mandatory sentence case must be submitted to and found true by a jury, rather than leaving it to a judge’s discretion.
Justice Judith Anne Lanzinger dissented, noting that the jury at the trial was not asked whether the crime of false representation supported the most grave racketeering conviction. Further, the verdict form given to the jury provided an unclear instruction to find that at least one of the incidents of corrupt activity was false representation, aggravated theft or theft from the elderly.
Before reaching the Ohio Supreme Court, the case was heard by Akron’s 9th District Court of Appeals, which ordered a resentencing hearing for Willan after overturning all except six of his seventy convictions for insufficient evidence.
Willan was the primary figure in a 147-count Summit County, Ohio indictment alleging him of massive mortgage and securities fraud while operating his Evergreen businesses in Akron.
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