COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A former animal-rights advocate who got people to invest in his businesses and used the money for personal expenses has been ordered to repay his victims $1,105,369.29.
In addition to paying restitution, Jeffery Luke Westerman, 40, was sentenced Thursday by Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Andy Miller to serve 60 months of community control and pay court costs, according to a media release from the Ohio Department of Commerce.
Judge Miller further ordered a 19-year prison sentence, which was suspended pending successful completion of community control.
In November of 2017, Westerman left Columbus for El Paso, Texas, to run the city’s humane society. He lost the job in 2019. The former Columbus man was accused of stealing from people who invested in his now-defunct company: Solomon Global Holdings, according to earlier reporting by NBC4.
Westerman pled guilty in October to soliciting victims’ monies to invest in various companies owned or controlled by Westerman or his wife.
Additionally, he produced and provided to investors account statements showing false account values, which lulled the investors into maintaining their investments with Westerman, the media release said.
His securities license was previously suspended for failure to comply with an arbitration judgement, so he was not actively licensed with the Ohio Division of Securities during the time the fraud occurred.
Before investing, the Division of Securities encourages potential investors to call the Division’s Investor Protection Hotline at 877-683-7841 to ask:
- Is the brokerage firm and salesperson licensed to sell securities in Ohio?
- Have any enforcement actions been taken against them?
- Has the security been properly registered with the Division of Securities?