A former Madison resident who bilked investors out of over $100 million in a Ponzi scheme involving fraudulent timber rights was sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison this week.

Lamar Adams, 58, pleaded guilty earlier this year to operating one of the largest Ponzi schemes in state history.

Adams’ office was located in an unassuming office building on Main Street in Madison along the railroad track. 

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Adams on Tuesday to 235 months in federal prison on wire fraud charges. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, in addition to full restitution to be paid to his victims. 

Adams faced a maximum of 70 years in prison and fines totaling $1.5 million.

According to a release from the U.S. Justice Department, “During the last year of the scheme, Adams fraudulently obtained in excess of $164.5 million from more than 320 investors located in at least 14 different states.”

The scheme is said to have originated as early as 2011 and continued up until April 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Adams solicited millions of dollars from investors who believed they would be buying and selling timber rights for a huge return of investment. Instead, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Adams used the funds for personal benefit, in addition to continuing the Ponzi scheme.

“As part of his fraudulent scheme, Adams falsely represented to investors that Madison Timber Properties was in the business of buying timber rights from landowners and then selling the timber rights to lumber mills at a higher price,” Hurst explained at the time of arrest. “The object of the scheme was to cause individuals to invest in loans that purportedly were for the purpose of financing contracts for the purchase of timber rights to be sold to lumber mills at a higher price. However, neither Adams nor Madison Timber Properties had such timber rights or contracts with lumber mills, except in only a few instances.”

Hurst said the loans guaranteed investors a 12- to 13-percent return over a period of 12-13 months. 

“We know that investors are anxious to learn whatever they can about the status of their investments and the assets of Madison Timber Properties LLC,” the statement from Hurst continued. “Although we cannot provide further details at this time, please be assured that all those involved are working diligently to investigate this matter and to locate and preserve assets that can be used for restitution to defrauded investors.”

On Tuesday, Hurst said justice was served. 

“While this fraudster will now spend almost the rest of his entire life behind bars, we will not rest until restitution is recovered and victims are restored,” he said. “My heart goes out to those who lost their retirement, their life savings, their life lines to this greedy, selfish man. Rest assured that we will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to root our fraud in the future and bring these criminals to justice.”