Florida Man Sentenced For Role In $30 Million Telemarketing Scam That Victimized Over 22,000 People
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that Gino Christopher Marquez, 31, of Wellington, Florida, was sentenced in federal court on Friday, July 20, 2012, to 70 months in prison, 5 years supervised release, a fine of $1000, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee. Marquez pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The indictment alleged that Marquez and others were involved in a telemarketing scam which operated in Florida that bilked over 22,000 victims of $30 million dollars victimizing consumers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, all ten Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territory of Canada. There were at least 54 victims in twenty eight (28) of the thirty eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
The criminal indictment alleged that defendant was a manager of Universal Marketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions in Palm Beach County, Florida. The indictment alleged that the scheme began October, 2007 and continued through at least January, 2010. Telemarketers for Universal Marketing Solutions and Creative Vacation Solutions placed cold calls to timeshare owners and then falsely represented that their company had actual buyers for the owners' timeshare property. Telemarketers they supervised then solicited advanced fees of up to several thousand dollars from each victim in purported closing costs that they promised would be refunded to the owner once the closing on the property occurred. Many timeshare owners were told that their closings were scheduled within the next sixty to ninety days. Despite collecting fees from 22,000 victims, these companies were not successful in selling a single timeshare unit, the Indictment alleged. Defendants and their co-conspirators, the indictment alleged, simply pocketed the closing costs.
Multiple others have been charged in connection with the Creative Vacation Solutions
telemarketing scam. On June 30, 2011, Jennifer Kirk pled guilty to a criminal information.
She was sentenced on January 9, 2012 to over 16 years in prison and five years supervised
release. On August 17, 2011, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis charged Steve Folan, Ryan
Brazel, and Brian Morris in a multi-count indictment for their involvement in the alleged scheme.
Folan, Brazel, and Morris pled guilty. Brazel was sentenced on June 29, 2012 to 121 months in
prison and three years supervised release. Folan was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three
years supervised release. Morris is awaiting sentencing set for August 17, 2012. Joel
Intravaia pled guilty to conspiracy in an information filed on August 19, 2011. He was
sentenced to 60 months in prison and three years supervised release on December 9, 2011.
Ralph Johnson entered a guilty plea to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on
September 8, 2011. He was sentenced on December 16, 2011 to 46 months in prison and two
years supervised release. On September 21, 2011, Kenneth Foote and Joseph Grizzanti were
indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. On October 7, 2011, each filed a consent to
transfer their case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in order to plead
guilty to the charges there. On May 11, 2012 in the Southern District of Florida, Foot was
sentenced to 60 months in prison and Grizzanti to 72 months, respectively. Jeffrey Tracey
Fields was charged with conspiracy in a criminal information on October 25, 2011. He filed a
consent to transfer his case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in order
to plead guilty to the charges there. On July 20, 2012, Fields was sentenced to 101 months in prison. John Thomas Egan pled guilty to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on January 6, 2012. His sentencing is set for September 10, 2012.
In March, 2012, John Robert Eddy, Cloyd James Holmes, Jr., and Donald Myers were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. The three are awaiting trial. In April 2012, Daniel L. Gregg, Joshua G. Schneidau, and Lacey Marie Stone were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. They are also awaiting trial. In May 2012, Anthony Colon, Troy Dye, Chris Gilkey, Marc Martinangelo, and Robert Santiago were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. The five are awaiting trial. Most recently, in July 2012, Garry A. Brown, Daniel James Ferrara, and Robert Schmucker were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Arraignments for these three are set for August 7, 2012.
Note - As to those awaiting trial, an indictment is simply a charge; a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until the government has proven that person=s guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt, to a jury.
The prosecution follows an investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Florida Attorney General's Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Boynton Beach Florida Police Department. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Reppert, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lewis, and U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton.