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Former Rochester man sentenced to 20 years in prison for Ponzi, COVID-19 fraud

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A former Rochester man has been convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, as well as to wire fraud involving the fraudulent sale of purported N95 masks during the pandemic.

Christopher A. Parris, 42, formerly of Rochester, NY, and currently of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced to twenty years in prison by U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.

Parris was also ordered to pay approximately $106-million dollars in restitution.

“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.

He added, “The Department of Justice will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to prosecute those responsible for these types of fraud.”

“Christopher Parris, and his co-defendant Perry Santillo, engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud hundreds of victims out of approximately $115 million dollars,” stated U.S. Attorney Ross.

Ross stated that the defendants went to great lengths to perpetuate their fraud and did so over a substantial period of time.

“This office, along with our law enforcement partners, committed significant resources to investigate this scheme, resulting in the prosecution of both Christopher Parris and Perry Santillo, who have now been sentenced to substantial periods of incarceration for victimizing their innocent clients in this Ponzi scheme.

“In addition, defendant Parris was also convicted for his part in a COVID-19 fraud scheme, during which he obtained approximately $7.4 million dollars by falsely purporting to have N95 masks, made in the United States, that he could sale to various medical companies, including the VA hospital, during the height of the pandemic,” Ross stated.

“Defrauding the citizens and companies of this great country will not be tolerated in our society.

U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew M. Graves, stated that individuals who participate in this type of fraudulent activity will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“This defendant exploited a situation like none other in our recent history,” Graves said.

“Fraud like this, playing off fears during a pandemic, merits a significant sentence, as the court imposed today. This sentence should be a warning to anyone who thinks they can get away with ripping off the government or others during a crisis,” Graves added.

Court documents revealed that between January 2011 and June 2018, Parris conspired with co-defendant Perry Santillo and others to obtain money through an investment fraud, commonly known as a Ponzi scheme.

“Specifically, in 2007, Parris and Santillo, as equal partners, formed a business known as Lucian Development in Rochester. Prior to approximately July 2007, Lucian Development raised millions of dollars from investors in Rochester, and elsewhere, by soliciting investments for City Capital Corporation, a business operated by Ephren Taylor,” the documents unveiled.

The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.

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