News and Press Releases

Florida Man 14th Sentenced for Role in $30 Million Timeshare Resale Telemarketing Scam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2012

Stephen R.Wigginton,United StatesAttorneyfor the SouthernDistrict of Illinois, announced today that Brian Christopher Morris, 46, of Boynton Beach, Florida was sentenced to 14 years in prison, 5 years of supervised release, fined $1000, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee. In February 2012, Morris pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. The indictment alleged that Morris 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 thatMorriswas amanager ofUniversalMarketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions in Palm Beach County, Florida. The indictment alleged that the scheme began in 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, supervised by Morris and others, 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 pleaded guilty to a criminal information. She was sentenced on January 9, 2012, to over 16 years imprisonment and 5 years supervised release. On August 17, 2011, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis charged Brian Morris, Ryan Brazel and Steven Folan in a multi-count indictment for their involvement in the alleged scheme. Folan and Brazel pleaded guilty. Folan was sentenced to 5 years in imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release. Brazel was sentenced to 10 years and 1 month in prison and 5 years of supervised release. Joel Intravaia pleaded guilty to conspiracy in an information filed on August 19, 2011. He was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment and 3 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 imprisonment and 2 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. Foote was sentenced to 73 months imprisonment and Grizzanti was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment. 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. Fields’ sentencing is set for July 17, 2012. John Thomas Egan pled guilty to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on January 6, 2012. He was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison on September 10, 2012. In January 2012, David Johnson and Erin Todd were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. David Johnson pleaded guilty in August, 2012, and is awaiting sentencing. Erin Todd was convicted following a three day jury trial on September 13, 2012 and is awaiting sentencing in January, 2013. In March, 2012, John Robert Eddy, Cloyd James Holmes, Jr., Gino ChristopherMarquez, and Donald Meyers were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. Gino Christopher Marquez was sentenced to 70 months in prison in July 2012. John Robert Eddy and Donald Myers pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Cloyd Holmes, Jr. is awaiting trial. In April 2012, Lacey Marie Stone, Daniel L. Gregg, and Joshua G. Schneidau were indicted by a federal grand jury. Joshua Schneidau pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Lacey Stone and Daniel Gregg are awaiting trial. In May 2012, Anthony Colon, Troy Dye, Chris Gilkey, Marc Martinangelo, and Robert Santiago were indicted by a federal grand jury. Anthony Colon, Chris Gilkey, Marc Martinangelo and Robert Santiago pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Troy Dye is awaiting trial. In July 2012, Daniel James Ferrara, Garry A. Brown, and Robert Schmucker were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. All three men are currently awaiting trial.

Please note – for those awaiting trial, a defendant is presumed innocent of any and all charges unless or until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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 casewas handled byAssistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce E. Reppert and Katherine L. Lewis, and U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton.

 

 

 

 

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