SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane developer Ron Wells will avoid jail time as part of his sentencing after he pleaded guilty to nine charges relating to fraud stemming from a scheme that involved defrauding insurance companies.
Wells will serve one year of home detention starting on Thursday, February 6, according to KREM's Amanda Roley, who was at the sentencing hearing.
While on home detention, Wells will have to wear an electronic monitoring device that he has to pay for, according to Roley. It will be used when he has to make any trips out of his home, such as for jobs or health reasons.
Wells released a statement through his attorney after the hearing, apologizing for his actions.
"I was prepared to accept whatever sentence I received today without reservation. I continue to accept full responsibility for my conduct and have fully cooperated with the government since the indictment," the statement reads. "I broke the law the violated the trust of many. I am truly and deeply sorry. I hope to one day be able to regain that trust and return to making positive contributions to the community."
The judge said that justice should be blind and everyone should be punished the same for the same crime, regardless of notoriety, according to Roley.
The judge explained that he decided to vary from the sentencing guidelines due to Wells' cooperation and medical issues, according to Roley. The government had requested a sentence below the standard range due to Well's cooperation, according to Roley.
Wells' attorney said he had elective bariatric surgery, which his doctors said was necessary due to his weight and health condition, according to Roley. A week later, Wells' fell due to dehydration, and in Sept. 2018, doctors found massive bleeding and Wells' went into a coma, according to Roley.
In addition to his home detention, Wells was already ordered to pay $179,876.55 in restitution. The judge added a $60,000 fine on Wednesday, according to Roley.
Wells said in court that he is remorseful and sorry for pain he has caused, according to Roley. He also said he was humiliated and takes full responsibility for what happened, which he said he should have stopped from happening.
His attorney and the prosecutors told the judge that Wells committed fraud because William Mize, the ringleader of the group, allegedly threatened Wells with physical harm if he didn't repay a $20,000 loan Mize had given him, according to Roley.
The government's prosecutors told the judge they believed that Mize threatened Wells, but that it doesn't explain why Wells continued to take part in the scheme after the loan was repaid, according to Roley.
Wells was sentenced during a hearing in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington in downtown Spokane on Wednesday morning.
Wells had previously accepted a plea deal in April. The charges include six counts of mail fraud, one county of selling property gained from unlawful activity, one count of conspiracy to sell property gained from unlawful activity, and one county of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, according to court documents.
The total maximum prison time for all counts combined was 60 years, according to the plea agreement.
Wells is a famous Spokane developer and architect who led radical transformation of buildings such as the San Marco Building and the old Eldrigde building, with the former being turned into apartments and the latter being turned into Rocket Bakery and Fringe and Fray.
The charges stem from Wells involvement in a scheme started in September with 22 other defendants to "defraud insurance companies and to obtain money from these companies by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises," according to court documents.
In Wells' grand jury indictment, it was stated that Wells and other conspirators staged automobile accidents to receive insurance payouts. The accidents were staged on rural roads.