Man Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for Stealing $1.5 Million from Shriners Groups

Man Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for Stealing .5 Million from Shriners Groups

William Schwartz has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for stealing $1.5 million from two Shriners groups, including funds intended for life-saving medical flights for children. Judge Adam Espinosa handed down the unusually stiff punishment for a white-collar crime following a three-hour hearing. Schwartz, who served as treasurer of the El Jebel Shrine Association from 2014 to 2019, diverted over $1.2 million earmarked for the organization and Shriners Hospitals for Children to his own bank accounts. In 2019, he became treasurer of the Order of Quetzalcoatl and stole over $250,000 from the group.

Schwartz was indicted in April 2022 and convicted by a jury in May of this year on two counts of felony theft. During the sentencing hearing, Schwartz tearfully expressed remorse for his actions, acknowledging the harm caused to those the money was intended to help. His wife and daughter did not attend the hearing, and only his psychiatrist testified on his behalf.

Numerous Shriners and their supporters filled the courtroom, with several testifying passionately about the philanthropic work of their groups, which includes funding medical airlifts for children in need. The prosecution described Schwartz as a sociopath who took advantage of others, while the defense argued that the stolen funds did not prevent the organizations from continuing their charitable work.

Schwartz’s psychiatrist testified that his patient had a difficult childhood, neurological disorder, and battled cancer, framing his greed as an addiction that he couldn’t control. The defense also mentioned Schwartz’s desire to emulate the successful lifestyles of his Shriner friends.

Deputy District Attorney Katie Kirk highlighted Schwartz’s lavish lifestyle, which included expensive properties, vehicles, and luxury items purchased with the stolen money. Kirk stated that this case was an aberration due to the scale of victimization of a charitable organization.

Ultimately, Judge Espinosa sentenced Schwartz to 16 years in prison, acknowledging the significant nature of his offenses.

Author: CrimeDoor

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