MADISON, WI. -- Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Michael Shillin, 33, formerly of Eau Claire, Wisconsin was sentenced [Thursday] by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 84 months in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to defraud his clients as well as committing bank fraud. Shillin pleaded guilty to these charges on May 23, 2022.
Shillin previously had been remanded into custody on April 14, 2022, because he took a vacation to St. Thomas in violation of his terms of pretrial release that forbade him for traveling outside of the State of Wisconsin.
Shillin worked as a financial advisor with clients throughout the Chippewa Valley and beyond. He pleaded guilty to a three-part wire fraud scheme in which he (1) misled his clients by telling them that they owned shares of pre-IPO stock in high-profile companies such as Space-X and Palantir; (2) misled his clients into believing they had long-term care insurance policies when they did not; and (3) misled his clients into believing they were eligible for tax benefits when they were not. As the scheme unraveled, Shillin used fraudulent collateral to obtain two bank loans in the aggregate amount of $462,000 to continue the scheme.
At sentencing, Judge Peterson emphasized the need to impose a sentence for this “pretty horrifying crime” that reflected the suffering that Shillin inflicted on his victims. Based on the record at sentencing, Judge Peterson called Shillin “resolutely dishonest” and a “very selfish person.” He rejected Shillin’s argument that Shillin lied in a misguided attempt to make his clients feel good, but instead stated that Shillin “lied to make [himself] feel good.” Judge Peterson noted that the victims should not feel bad about being defrauded because they were defrauded by a “highly skilled manipulator” who had “vast experience in deceit.”
The charges against Michael Shillin were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration; and the Eau Claire and Altoona Police Departments. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions provided assistance. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary J. Corey and Aaron Wegner.