April 05-- Apr. 5--A former Springfield financial adviser who was found guilty of stealing more than $150,000 from a 99-year-old Jerome woman was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison Thursday in Sangamon County Circuit Court by Associate Judge Rudolph Braud.
Vaughn Henry, 67, who founded Henry and Associates in 1977, faced up to 15 years in prison on counts of theft exceeding $100,000 and financial exploitation of the elderly.
Sangamon County State's Attorney Dan Wright called it "a tragic case of betrayal of trust by the defendant" at the time Henry was found guilty on Jan. 19.
Henry took the now-deceased woman's money in January 2013 to invest it. Henry testified he had a "handshake agreement" with the woman to sell her a 1 percent share in a company developing an animal slaughterhouse in Africa.
Instead, Henry transferred the funds to his own accounts in late 2013 and early 2014 and spent the money on personal expenses, prosecutors contended.
Two charges of wire fraud and money laundering were dropped before the five-day trial began.
Henry had specialized in management of livestock and horse-breeding facilities, planned giving, business succession, estate planning and conservation, according to his LinkedIn account.
Wright recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison. Henry's attorney asked for probation. The 7 1/2-year sentence is to be served at the rate of 50 percent under Illinois sentencing law. The court also ordered Henry to pay $150,000 in restitution.
"This sentence sends a clear message that individuals who use their professional position of trust to steal money entrusted to them for investment will be prosecuted to the fullest extent," Wirght said in a statement. "It does not matter where you are from, your background or other status in our community. These crimes will not be tolerated in Sangamon County."
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