NASHVILLE — A Nashville-area conman who fled Tennessee on the eve of trial two years ago hid in plain sight under at least three fake identities, including as a Harvard-educated psychiatric who conducted therapy sessions and handed out pills, according to federal authorities.
One of those pills allegedly caused a depressed teen to become suicidal.
George David George, 64, of Franklin, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for a Tennessee fraud scheme that used a fake social network to dupe investors out of about $3 million. George was arrested in 2015, fled the state in 2017 and was recaptured earlier this year and then brought back to Tennessee to face prosecution.
While announcing George's sentence in a press release, federal prosecutors said the fugitive had hidden using three fake identities:
- In Houston, George pretended to be "David Brown" and solicited investments in a sports membership business, "causing significant loss to investors."
- In Huntsville, Alabama, George used a stolen identity to become car salesman "Stephen Olivier," who leased a $70,000 Mercedes with stolen credit.
- And then in Ponte Verde, Florida, George added a fake Harvard doctorate to his resume, becoming psychiatrist "Dr. Stephen Olivier."
As Olivier, George pretended to treat patients during therapy sessions, including a 16-year-old boy with depression, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. During George's sentencing hearing on Monday, that mother of that teen testified that George had given the boy clonazepam — an anxiety drug that can cause suicidal tendencies — and the boy later became suicidal and had to be hospitalized.
Fake disabilities, photoshopped faces: How feds say celebrities, coaches and scammers got kids into elite colleges
Judge: 'Larceny in his heart'
In Tennessee, George's crimes stemmed from a Brentwood company called WellCity, which claimed to operate a social media network described as a health-oriented Facebook. Court records say George wooed at least 37 investors to give more than $3 million to the company, which he then kept for himself, using some of it for gambling.
George was arrested in May 2015, then pleaded guilty to some charges about 10 months later. Court records show George later withdrew this plea, restarting his criminal prosecution, then vanished a few days before his trial was scheduled to begin.
George pleaded guilty Monday to seven counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson said George had "larceny in his heart" before putting him in federal prison for two decades.
“I commend our prosecutors, law enforcement partners and the many victims who persevered throughout the life of this case,” said U.S. Attorney Cochran in the news release. “Because of their tenacity, Mr. George will have little to no chance of inflicting his many deceitful scams upon anyone else as he spends the next 20 years in prison.”
Fyre and blood: Why scams and frauds are the perfect true-crime stories for 2019
Follow Brett Kelman on Twitter at @brettkelman
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee fugitive masqueraded as Harvard-educated psychiatrist, gave out pills, feds say