Ex-CEO of software firm found dead day before due in prison

Technology IndustryBolingbrook

The former president of a software company who pleaded guilty to defrauding investors and clients of more than $93 million was found dead last week in north-central Illinois, the day before he was scheduled to start serving a 15-year prison sentence, officials said.

Jeremy J. Blackburn, 38, was found dead about 7:50 p.m. March 19, in a truck in a barn-like structure at a property in the 1600 block of Old Mill Road in the Franklin Grove community of Lee County, said Lee County Sheriff John Varga.

Blackburn, of Bolingbrook, was the former president and CEO of Chicago-based Canopy Financial, Inc., which he co-founded in 2004 with Anthony Banas and Vik Kashyap. Blackburn was accused of cheating investors of $75 million and taking more than $18 million from customer accounts.

Earlier this year, Blackburn was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Banas was sentenced to almost 13 years after each pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the case in U.S. District Court in Chicago in late 2010. Blackburn was to start serving his federal sentence March 20.

The company declared bankruptcy in 2009.

The Jeremy Blackburn found dead downstate was the same scheduled to report to prison last week in the Canopy Financial case, said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

The Franklin Grove home where Blackburn was found is owned by family members, according to property records.

Sheriff’s police were called to the Old Mill Road property to check the welfare of a person there, and when they arrived, found Blackburn dead in the vehicle in the barn-like structure, Varga said.

Coroner officials were called to the scene and Blackburn was declared dead on the scene at 8:45 p.m., according to the Lee County coroner’s office.

Blackburn’s death is not being investigated as a homicide Varga said, but Lee County Coroner Jesse Partington said more information on Blackburn’s death would be released after the completion of a coroner’s investigation in two or three weeks.

Blackburn’s attorney did not return calls for comment.

lford@tribune.com

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