Published on Friday, 14 January 2011 11:47
The owner and founder of the short-lived Internet sports talk radio station ChicagoSportsWebio.com, David Hernandez was sentenced today to spend close to the next 17 years in a Federal prison. The 50 year old Downers Grove man was also ordered to pay restitution of $6.4 million to the over 250 people he conned that amount out of in a Ponzi scheme.
The sentence comes one year after Hernandez pleaded guilty to mail fraud. The guilty plea followed a long Federal investigation that found Hernandez had been lying to hundreds of people over an almost two-year period in order to get them to invest approximately $13 million into his business, NextStep Financial Services. Large, fast returns on their investments were promised -- up to 16% per month -- which of course, didn't come to happen.
David Hernandez was also a huge fan of Chicago sports and Chicago sports talk radio. He convinced former WSCR-AM radio personality Mike North and others to partner up with him to form an Internet all-sports-talk radio station at the start of 2009. The illegally-gained money from Hernandez's Ponzi schemes was used to to finance the ChicagoSportsWebio project. Just a few weeks after it started, Webio came to a crashing halt as checks started bouncing and the Feds were cracked down on Hernandez and his NextStep business. Many Chicago sports radio personalities and producers who had put their trust in Hernandez were suddenly unemployed.
To avoid arrest, Hernandez then went on the run from authorities. He was found a few days later in a hotel room in downstate Normal, Illinois after a failed suicide attempt of ingesting rat poison and cutting his left wrist.
Ever the con man, Hernandez attempted to avoid jail time in 2010 and be confined to his home by telling the Federal Judge that he had cancer. Hernandez faked a doctor's note that confirmed the cancer. The doctor whose name appeared on the note, testified that he indeed had not written that note and that Hernandez did not have any cancer.
In today's hearing, Hernandez tearfully claimed that his habitual lying was due to mental illness caused by childhood abuse. He pleaded for mercy. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman was not swayed by the tale. He called Hernandez a con man, a thief, a lair and a cheat. The Judge said that Hernandez could not be believed.
The U.S. Attorney Office urged the Judge to deliver a harsh sentence or Hernandez would simply con others yet again.
Judge Gettleman sentenced Hernandez to 200 months in a Federal prison and ordered him to pay back the $6.4 million that Hernandez admitted to bilking unknowing investors out of. Unfortunately, Hernandez no longer has any assets or funds available to him, so the likelihood of any of his victims seeing any restitution is slim.
This was not David Hernandez's first time in front of a judge or his first time being sentenced for crimes. In 1998, Hernandez was sentenced to 34 months in prison after being convicted of wire fraud, which was connected to another investment fraud scheme of his. He was out of prison after only a very short stay. In 1999, Hernandez was sentenced to two years probation after he was convicted of child abduction after he took a child from his first marriage and attempted to flee the country with her.