By KARA HARTNETT
The former CEO of Brentwood-based wellness social networking company WellCity was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Monday for duping investors out of $3 million in a fraudulent investment scheme.
George David George had been charged with several felony counts for securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with the scheme, where he solicited millions of dollars from investors while misrepresenting WellCity’s revenues and assets, investors’ loans and the status of a supposed initial public offering. At a plea hearing Monday, George signed an agreement admitting guilt to all seven counts brought against him and agreed to pay more than $2.8 million in restitution.
However, the sentencing hearing that followed didn’t focus on the charges George is being put away for. Rather, the central theme was the slew of crimes he committed during his 10 months on the run before being arrested in January.
According to court testimony, George’s escape attempt began with an online search: “Best places to live for a fugitive running from justice?” was among the various searches George made in mid-April 2017, the month before he fled to Texas.
One of his final searches, of course, was: “How do I erase my search history?”
Soon, with the help of a Middle Tennessee chiropractor identified as “Bates,” George cut off his ankle monitor and fled to Houston. There, he lived under the alias “David Brown” and used various fake identification documents to live under the radar. He launched another investment scheme, this time for a sports membership business, and caused significant loss to investors, according to prosecutors. He also convinced a woman he employed to open a bank account for the business in her name, wrote fraudulent checks to various entities for thousands of dollars, then ditched town — leaving the woman in financial turmoil.
George landed in Huntsville, Alabama, where he befriended a neighbor named Stephen Olivier, then stole his identity. He used Olivier’s personal information to land a job at the local Mercedes dealership, open a credit card account and lease a $70,000 car.
Car in hand, George fled to Florida, where he represented himself as a Harvard-educated psychiatrist named Stephen Olivier. He opened a practice in Ponte Vedra — for which he was not qualified — and treated patients on a regular basis. A witness who provided video testimony during the hearing said she paid George, whom she knew as “Dr. Stephen Olivier,” $750 to treat her 16-year old son, who was suffering from depression.
George conducted therapy sessions with her son and ultimately gave her an envelope containing Clonazepam for her son to take. George had appropriated this medication from a pharmacist he had met on Match.com and with whom he was having a romantic relationship — while deceiving her as well. After the witness’ son took the medication, he became suicidal and had to be hospitalized.
George was apprehended and arrested by the U.S. Marshals shortly thereafter in January. They found several introductory-level psychology books in his possession, including “Psychology for Dummies.”
In handing down the 20-year sentence, Judge Wilson remarked that George had “larceny in his heart” and he felt it was his foremost duty to protect the public from George and his propensity to continue his pattern of fraud and deceit.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and the IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Booth, Miller Bushong and Henry Leventis prosecuted the case.