BALTIMORE -- The former owner of a failed Maryland thrift has been sentenced to 40 years in prison and ordered to pay $25 million in restitution for stealing millions of dollars from depositors and then fleeing the country.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz gave Tom J. Billman, 54, the sentence was sought by prosecutors after it was learned that he had arranged for secret money transfers overseas after he was in jail pending trial. Defense lawyers sought a two-year sentence.

Mr. Billman was convicted April 1 of taking $29 million from Community Savings and Loan in the 1980s and then fleeing to Europe. Friends of the Bethesda, Md., millionaire wrote the judge letters describing Mr. Billman as a principled, self-made businessman. But another picture emerged in evidence, and later from the seizure by Austrian authorities of a letter Mr. Billman wrote from jail, apparently giving instructions to an accomplice.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.