BROTHERS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING CHURCHES, NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS, AND SMALL BUSINESSES
The defendants engaged in a multifaceted scheme to defraud businesses and organizations by: (1) altering signed lease agreements to include additional copy machines or features that the customers did not order and never received, thus increasing the lump sum payment received from the financing companies; (2) enticing customers into agreeing to a new lease by offering to pay off any old copy machine leases and to provide free maintenance and service, and then failing to either pay off the customer’s old lease or to provide free maintenance or service; and (3) inducing existing customers to complete new leasing applications under the guise of “refinancing” the lease on existing copy machines, and then submitting the new leasing application to an entirely different leasing company, thereby collecting a second lump sum payment and obligating the customer to two separate lease payments on the same copy machine.
The court found that there were over fifty institutional victims, mostly churches, non-profit organizations, and other small businesses, with losses exceeding $2 million. Evidence introduced at sentencing showed that the defendants operated a sophisticated scheme that employed sham companies, used fictitious names to conceal the defendants’ identities, and relocated the scheme from Pennsylvania to Florida to avoid law enforcement. In total, the defendants ran this fraudulent scheme for over seven years until law enforcement successfully ended their fraud.
U.S. Attorney Oberly congratulated both the FBI and Assistant United States Attorneys Jaime M. McCall and Mark M. Lee for the complex investigation and prosecution of this case, which took several years and the review of thousands of documents. The Staton brothers preyed upon vulnerable churches and non-profits, as well as small businesses in a particularly devious manner in an attempt to enrich themselves. Now both will have years in prison to contemplate their crimes.
The investigation was handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.