A Hixson man originally charged with defrauding investors of over $2.8 million was sentenced on Monday to serve 42 months in federal prison.
Richard Alan Bazzell appeared before Judge Sandy Mattice. Bazzell earlier pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud as well as bank fraud.
The final restitution amount was pegged at $2,493,271.83. Judge Mattice read a long list of investors and the amount they are owed. The amounts ranged from $25,000 to several hundred thousand.
Several of the defrauded investors took the witness stand, including one who said all of their savings were gone.
Bazzell apologized to those in the courtroom, saying, "I failed to safeguard that money. I do hope I can pay them back."
He said, "I was too proud to admit that things were going bad. I should have told them of the situation."
Bazzell added, "I hope one day they will be able to forgive me for the stress I caused these families."
Prosecutor Perry Piper said Bazzell promised those who invested in his TrailSteaks LLC snack food distribution company guaranteed returns of as high as 10 percent.
Bazzell initially would routinely make investor payments, but, by the end of 2013, most of his funds had run out.
Attorney Leslie Cory said Bazzell suffers from anxiety and depression, helping to lead to his business downfall. She said he continued to try to work hard to prop up the business, but it continued to worsen.
She also said he had no prior criminal record.
Bazzell will be on supervised release for five years after getting out of prison.
He must report by March 7.
The sentencing guideline range was 37-46 months.