Florida man sentenced in West Virginia investment scheme

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A Florida man was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison Friday for bilking more than a dozen investors out of nearly $5 million.

Phillip W. Conley of Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced in federal court in Clarksburg for his guilty plea to one count of securities fraud.

Conley, 38, admitted to scheming 18 people from 2014 to 2019. The victims were from several states, including West Virginia.

Prosecutors said Conley’s investment broker’s license was suspended in December 2015 but that he portrayed himself as an investment adviser. Conley mailed false statements to victims that claimed a positive rate of return for their investments, even though he invested little or none of the money.

Instead, he spent much of it on private jet flights, expensive meals, clothes, jewelry, housing and living expenses for himself. Conley’s victims included small business owners along with churches in Charleston, Parkersburg and Morgantown, prosecutors said.

Conley previously agreed to forfeit property purchased from the proceeds of the crimes.