BY JOSEPH BUSTOS
ROCKFORD - Cynthia Kohl was driven to tears as she told how Nevin Gillette bilked her of $60,000.
She had sent the investment broker a personal check. He later came to her Rock Falls home and told her he needed a cashier's check. He took her to the bank and deposited the money right in front of her, she said.
"He's a liar and a crook. He's just a thief," Kohl said. "He's ruined our lives, along with all of these other people. I hope he gets what he deserves."
Kohl was one of six people who testified Thursday at Gillette's sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard. The actual sentencing was continued until 1 p.m. Sept. 21. Assistant U.S. Attorney John McKenzie and defense attorney Dan Cain still are haggling over how much money Gillette took, and from how many people.
The prosecution says he stole more than $7 million from at least 50 people in an investment scam that lasted eight years. He pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud in May, and now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of twice the amount victims lost, or twice the amount of his gain, whichever is greatest, on each count, plus restitution.
The defense contends he took only $6.3 million, and is asking for six-and-half to eight years in prison.
Delores and Ed Moore, of Leaf River, lost $124,000 to Gillette. Now they can't afford to put a new roof on their house, or get Ed a hearing aid, she testified.
"We gave everything we own to him, because we could earn a greater amount of interest," Delores Moore said. "We didn't know any better. He really painted us to be fools."
Shelley Good, of Chrisman, invested with Gillette because "my father thought the world of him, and turned everything he had over to him," she testified. Now she has a mortgage and college loans for her son that she can't pay.
"There's nothing there now. I feel he's responsible," Good said. "Looking back at the stories told and excuses given ... nothing seemed to make sense; he would put you down to be ignorant people," she said.
Barbara Anderson, daughter of Dorothy Nickel, whose civil suit against Gillette is what started the criminal investigation, also testified.
"He's a young man, he should not have a short amount of jail time and live a life on stolen money," said Anderson, of Orlandville, Wis. "Too much lying, too much going on, over many years."
Gillette, 46, a 1979 Rock Falls High School grad, owned Diversified Financial and Executive Marketing of Northern Illinois and Team Supreme, a fishing tackle company. He is free pending his sentencing.
Jesse Simpkins, of Hinkley, who never invested with Gillette, told the judge that he has a good relationship with Gillette and is willing to pay him $50 a day to be caretaker at his 40-acre farm while he's out on bond.
"Everything I've asked Nevin to do, it's always been done," Simpkins said.
In court documents, Gillette blames his criminal behavior in part on bipolar disorder, claims he can't make restitution and said he always intended to pay his clients back.
According to the prosecution, though, Gillette lived in a luxurious six-bedroom home, complete with an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, $1.4 million in fishing and hunting equipment, $135,000 in paintings, "hundreds of suits and a great deal of jewelry," much of which he hid in a storage facility and did not reveal to his probation officer, while claiming to have no assets.
Reach Joseph Bustos at (815) 625-3600 or (800) 798-4085, ext. 529.
Reach Joseph Bustos at (815) 284-2222 or (800) 798-4085, ext. 529.