Brothers Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding Churches, Non-Profit Organizations, and Small Businesses
WILMINGTON, Del. – Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Barrett Staton, 36, of Nokomis, Florida and his brother, Matthew Staton, 37, of Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania, were sentenced on December 13, 2013, in federal court for defrauding numerous Pennsylvania and Florida-based churches, non-profit organizations, and small businesses. Barrett Staton was sentenced to 108 months in prison, five years supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,070,529.74 in restitution. Matthew Staton was sentenced to 60 months in prison, three years supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,967,926.10 in restitution. Following a thirteen-day jury trial in July 2012, the defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as well as various counts of wire and mail fraud. Barrett Staton was also convicted of making a false statement in a loan document. The defendants, led by Barrett Staton, operated businesses that supplied copy machines to churches, non-profit organizations, and other small businesses throughout Harrisburg, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania, as well as in and around Sarasota, Florida.
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. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Jamie M. McCall and Mark M. Lee.