HomeGold CEO denied appeal

Ronald Sheppard

COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal by the former HomeGold chief executive officer convicted in one of the state's largest bankruptcies, dismissing Ronald Sheppard's request for either a new trial or a reduction in his 20-year prison sentence.

In 2007, a Lexington County jury found Sheppard, 53, guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy and obtaining property by false pretenses in the 2003 collapse of HomeGold and its subsidiary, Carolina Investors.

More than 8,000 investors lost $275 million in the bankruptcy of Carolina Investors, which rocked northern South Carolina. For decades, the company had been part of the area's social fabric, cranking out returns of 8.5 percent in the good years by making loans to people with poor credit, always making sure those folks had enough collateral.

But by the late 1990s, the company was taken over by HomeGold, which used the money to make high-risk mortgage loans to people who didn't have the collateral to pay for them. It wasn't long before the operation came tumbling down, evaporating college funds and thrusting retirees into poverty.