|By Riley Yates, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
At 68 years old, Freer will serve 12 to 30 years in state prison on 181 felony charges of theft — a sentence that Judge
"We always lived within our means and because he stole from me, we have nothing," said
"Richard, I ask you how could you do this to your friends, your family, your clients?" said another victim who lost everything,
Like all of those who rose to speak to Freer, Santos got no answers. Freer sat in handcuffs and shackles at the defense table with his back to his victims, gazing down without acknowledging their presence.
Instead, Freer was robbing Peter to pay Paul, using funds he took in from his unsuspecting victims to cover annuities that he owed other investors, authorities said. A grand jury last year recommended charges after a six-month probe sparked when one investor got a tax bill from the
Freer's only emotion came when Heitczman mentioned the defendant's own family, when Freer tore his glasses from his face, causing them to fall to the floor.
Freer said in the statement that he told himself when he started the scheme that he would one day find a way to pay his victims back. He said he now realizes that he never intended that.
"It was a lie from the beginning and I now know from my heart that it was so," Freer said.
Prosecutors have said Freer lived modestly in a rented house on
The funds Freer stole are gone, said Assistant District Attorney
Heitczman said his client agrees that the thefts reach into the millions of dollars, but may challenge the exact amount, given the nature of a Ponzi scheme.
"Some of this money may have gone back to some of the victims, so the amount of restitution may be somewhat overstated," Heitczman said.
The grand jury found that Freer began the fraud while working for
Freer would promise investors high-yield returns with little or no risk, said the grand jury, which uncovered victims stretching from the
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