A decision is awaited after a commutation hearing was held Monday for Merl William Hickman Sr., the Shawnee man convicted in 2004 of bilking more than $8 million from 160 area investors.

A decision is awaited after a commutation hearing was held Monday for Merl William Hickman Sr., the Shawnee man convicted in 2004 of bilking more than $8 million from 160 area investors.

Hickman is currently serving a 160-year prison term but went before the Pardon and Parole Board Monday in an attempt to reduce his sentence.

Hickman, 68, is seeking commutation of the 160-year state prison sentence that he began serving in 2012 after he first served eight years in federal prison. His case has passed through the first of two stages in that process.

District Attorney Richard Smothermon attended Monday's meeting and made a formal presentation to the Pardon and Parole Board in protest. The board isn't likely to make a decision on the case until its business meeting later this week.

Hickman was originally charged in Pottawatomie County District Court in February 2004 with 444 felony counts of obtaining money by false pretenses in a confidence game. He pleaded guilty to 16 of those counts in December 2004 and was sentenced to 10 years in each count, for a total of 160 years.

After completing an eight-year federal prison term in connection with this case, Hickman began serving the 160-year state prison term in 2012, with 160 years being symbolic for the 160 victims.

At that time, Smothermon said his goal — and his promise — to the scammed investors was Hickman would spend the rest of his life behind bars. Hickman, who was 55 at sentencing, is now 68.

The Hickman case first began to unfold Dec. 17, 2003, when state officials shut down The Hickman Agency in Shawnee and seized assets. The Ponzi scheme scam was exposed, leaving many to lose their life savings or retirement funds.

As part of the Ponzi scheme, investors were promised returns up to 20 percent, but no money was ever invested. Instead, funds from later investors were used to pay off earlier investors.

Prosecutors allege the rest was spent to fund a lavish lifestyle of boats, cars, trips and jewelry.

A court-appointed receiver was appointed to recoup investor money by selling off boats, cars, jewelry, property and other items confiscated from Hickman. Most of the investors received little if any money back, and any refunds were estimated to be pennies on the dollar.

Over the years, many of the investors impacted by this Ponzi scheme have said Hickman stole their trust and sense of security. Many have since tried to recover from the monetary loss, including retirees who lost their retirement funds and had to return to work to make ends meet.

As part of the case, Hickman’s son, Merl William “Billy” Hickman Jr., received a five-year term with the federal Bureau of Prisons and was released in 2009 after completing his time.

Watch for updates.