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Two Americans sentenced over mail fraud related to Ponzi scheme

Christopher Parris and his co-defendant Perry Santillo were sentenced to over 20 years (244 months) and over 17 years (211 months) in prison respectively for engaging in mail fraud related to a Ponzi scheme that netted them approximately $115 million.

Just like many criminals of their kind, Christopher A. Parris, 42, and Perry Santillo, 41, capitalized on sentiments, greed, and fears. They’ve engaged in two separate fraud schemes, with one related to the pandemic.

Between January 2011 and June 2018, Parris and Santillo organized an elaborate investment fraud known as a “Ponzi scheme.” They formed a Lucian Development company in Rochester, which raised millions from local investors. Soon, the money was lost – but Instead of disclosing that to investors, the pair continued to solicit even greater amounts in hopes of accounting for the lost sum.

“Over the years, to keep the Ponzi scheme from being detected, a substantial portion of incoming new investor monies were depleted by making promised interest and other payments to earlier investors,” the report explains.

Most of the money was used by Parris and Santillo to maintain their extravagant lifestyles, while the insignificant amounts deployed in productive investments were not profitable.

Parris also pleaded guilty to defrauding the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), as well as at least eight other victim companies, in a COVID-19 scheme.

He falsely represented his ability to access scarce PPE, including 3M-brand N95 respirator masks, from authorized sources, which he then offered for sale to various medical supply companies and governmental entities. This netted him an upfront payment of $3.075 million from the VA and approximately $7.4 million from at least eight other clients.

“The schemes for which this defendant was sentenced, including the purported sale of non-existent medical supplies during the pandemic, were outrageous,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

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