James David Williams was sentenced to 18 months in prison yesterday for violating probation. NXIVM played a role in his incarceration.
He was convicted by the feds, and sentenced in 2018, for swindling investors out of $15 million on filmmaking scams.
He turned on his partner, Steve Brown, and got off with a sentence of nine months in prison and probation, while Brown got five years and is still serving his sentence.
One of their victims, Bill Busbice Jr., is the owner of a hunting company in Louisiana and was the star of a reality show Wildgame Nation.
During the scam, Williams told investors he was going to make a film starring Nicolas Cage, Harry Connick, Jr. and others. Instead of making any film, he used the money for lavish vacations, luxury cars, yacht loan payments, and a down payment on a $3.5 million home in trendy Calabasas, Calif.
Williams’ short stint in prison was spent at the Metropolitan Detention Center [MDC] in Brooklyn, in 2018. There he met and befriended a man awaiting trial named Keith Alan Raniere, who had been charged, and subsequently convicted of sex trafficking, forced labor and other crimes in connection with his life-coaching group, NXIVM, and its secret sorority, DOS, where women were branded with his initials.
At his December 2018 sentencing, Williams told Judge Kimba Wood of his remorse over defrauding investors in films never made.
“I fully accept the responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I will accept the sentence from this Court, and I will strive my hardest and commit to my fullest to work honestly to pay restitution to my victims and lead a law-abiding life.”
Lenient Judge Wood sentenced him to time served [nine months] and probation.
Out of MDC, on probation, with Raniere’s approval, Williams was greenlit to get $500,000 from NXIVM supporters to make a NXIVM film.
This was not illegal, especially if he handed over a fair share of it to the victims of earlier scams.
Williams chose not to disclose the $500k to the feds and lied to his probation officer, telling him he worked for Universal Yacht Management for $1,000 per week. Much like he made up films that would never be produced, he made up the yacht company and created phony paychecks. Williams chose to use the half-million to pay for yacht expenses, private school tuition for his children, luxury apartments, and lavish vacations, paying only $11,900 towards the $15 million he owed victims in restitution from his earlier scam.
We told the first part of the story in Fellow Inmate of Raniere at MDC Gets Into Hot Water By Not Disclosing $500K He Got to Make NXIVM Film
As he did with other investors, Williams did not make any NXIVM film. The money is gone.
He might have gotten away with his lies, but the feds caught him on his phony company. And Judge Wood told Williams yesterday. “After I was lenient with you when I first sentenced you, you purposely violated important conditions of supervised release just four months after I sentenced you.”
She handed him 18 months in prison.
It might have been longer but NXIVM investors are not pressing fraud charges against him.
Eduardo Asunsolo Ramirez issued a statement to the media: “I gathered a group of investors to expose corruption and injustice in the NXIVM case including how federal agents may have planted evidence. Dave Williams was someone we tapped because of his filmmaking experience to bring this message out to a wider audience, his research was immensely helpful. I suspect the government’s attempt to imprison him after he completed his probation may have more to do with suppressing the release of his film than the probation infractions.”
Supporters of Raniere have long maintained that the FBI tampered with photos produced as evidence at his trial of 15-year-old Camila, which led to the jury finding of “proven” for Raniere’s predicate racketeering acts of possession of child porn and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Supporters of Raniere said they would file a motion before the trial judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, showing new evidence of tampering, dating back to October 2020, just before Raniere was sentenced.
Ramirez told Frank Report that the film Williams was paid to produce was said to be for Apple TV or a similar platform.
“Williams always said he wanted to show what the government was doing. He knew that what we were saying was true,” Ramirez said. “He had good research… He was helpful to us. He helped us do a podcast and with editing.”
Ramirez stressed that none of the $500,000 paid to Williams was Clare Bronfman’s money. He also said it was not his money, but came from a team of investors, from the ranks of NXIVM, some contributing larger amounts and others making smaller investments.
Ramirez said that what Williams did with probation was stupid, and that he is off the project but that the NXIVM film project is still moving forward.