U.S. Citizen Extradited from Brazil Sentenced for Wire Fraud Charges
BOSTON – A former accountant was sentenced today in federal court in Boston in connection with a $2 million wire fraud scheme.
Christopher Morris, 48, formerly of Lowell and Chelsea, Mass., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to time served (approximately 32 months). Morris was ordered to pay $2,057,874 in restitution and to forfeit approximately $60,000 in cash and jewelry seized from him at the time of his arrest in Brazil. In September 2019, Morris pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and 12 counts of unlawful monetary transactions. In May 2019, Morris was extradited from Brazil to the United States to face charges handed down by a grand jury in the District of Massachusetts in November 2014.
Morris admitted that he participated in a wire fraud scheme targeting his employer PBS Distribution (PBSd), a media distribution business with operations in Allston and elsewhere. Morris’ position gave him access to U.S. mail addressed to PBSd’s accounting department, including checks payable to PBSd. Beginning as early as January 2008 and continuing through September 2012, Morris took more than $2 million in checks under the guise of depositing them into PBSd’s bank accounts, but he instead endorsed them to himself and deposited them into a personal bank account. Morris used his access to PBSd’s accounting system to conceal the theft by, among other steps, fraudulently causing credits to be issued to the accounts of customers whose checks he stole, and by causing PBSd’s general ledger to be altered to show that the same customers had made payments. Morris spent the proceeds of the scheme on a lavish lifestyle that included, among other expenses, year-long apartment rentals in New York City’s Greenwich Village and Tribeca neighborhoods, the down payment, purchase and upkeep of a waterfront condominium in Chelsea, and luxury clothing, dining and travel, including a $16,000 two-week South American cruise.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Joseph W. Cronin, Postal Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Field Division; and Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross made the announcement today. The U.S. Marshals Service for the District of Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance with Morris’ extradition to the United States. The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge Brazilian authorities for their cooperation in this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto, of Lelling’s Cybercrime Unit, prosecuted the case.