Perry Santillo, a Rochester-based investment banker, admitted to scamming hundreds of investors in a national Ponzi scheme.
According to court papers, Santillo and his business partner gained close to $115.5 million from close to 1000 investors from 2012-2018. He reportedly still owes them $71 million in principal.
Both continued lying to investors
News reports say Santillo and his business partner Christopher Parris started Lucian Development in Rochester, New York, back in 2007. Santillo and Parris then worked with City Capital Corporation owner Ephren Taylor to get millions of dollars from investors, only to learn that their investors’ money had been lost. Rather than telling their victims the truth, the two started luring money from countless other investors in an attempt to gain the money back.
Santillo’s attorney said Santillo and his business partners were not aware of City Capital Corporation’s dire financial condition when they became business partners with Taylor.
Taylor has since pleaded guilty to operating a Ponzi scheme.
Operations were able to go undetected
While the two men continued cheating investors, they received support from a banker who allegedly worked at Bank of America and then Citizens Bank. There, she cleared out-of-state checks to make sure they were immediately available to Santillo and Parris. She also helped deceive creditors by giving them skewed information about Santillo’s company accounts. Her assistance allowed the scheme to continue without being detected.
Santillo could face five years in prison
Santillo’s arrest and plea were part of other investigations that reached across several states. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could face five years in prison and may have to pay a $114 million fine, twice the amount of what his investors lost. Authorities have said they hope confiscation of Santillo’s property and the arrest of other scammers involved could help return some of the investors’ money.
Santillo pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in federal court on Oct. 7.