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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Thursday, July 27, 2017

British Expatriate Sentenced To Nine Years In Prison For Role In Wire Fraud Scheme

Defendant defrauded victims of more than $6 million by lying about the existence of a sick heiress in need of medical care

SAN JOSE – Laurence Miles was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence was handed down yesterday by the Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Judge, after Miles pleaded guilty to the charges on April 6, 2017.

Miles, a 76 year-old citizen of Great Britain, had been living in Southern California during the time of the offenses.  According to his guilty plea, since at least 2009 and continuing through December of 2015, he defrauded scores of victims of at least $5.6 million.  Miles admitted that along with his four co-defendants, Shirley Molina, 70, of Hawthorne, Calif., Munsif Shirazi, 49, of Bell Canyon, Calif., Robert Stephens, 65, of Napa, Calif., and Rayan Lakshmanan, 48, of Davis, Calif., he told people that an heiress to a billion-dollar estate was very ill and was in need of medical attention.  Miles and his co-defendants convinced their victims that the heiress’s money was tied up in a secret probate case and that, in return for money to help pay for the heiress’s medical costs, Miles and his accomplices would return to their victims $1,000 for every $1 they invested in the heiress’s estate.  Miles and his accomplices promised their victims that they would see the returns on their investments after the money was released from probate.  In truth, there was no dying heiress with a large estate.  Instead, Miles and his codefendants used the victims’ money to support their own lifestyles.  On December 3, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Miles and charged him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; 22 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and 4 counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.  Pursuant to his plea agreement, Miles pleaded guilty to one count of each of the charges and the remaining charges were dismissed.  Each of Miles’ co-defendants have pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the conspiracy and will be sentenced later this year.  

In sentencing Miles, Judge Koh found that Miles had been conducting the scheme for more than a decade.  The Court concluded Miles obtained millions of dollars from his victims, had been a leader of the fraud, controlled the money, and exercised authority over some of his accomplices.  

In addition to the 9-year prison term, Judge Koh ordered Miles to serve a three-year period of supervised release and to pay a forfeiture money judgement of $5,628,765.  Judge Koh ordered Miles to begin serving his sentence October 20, 2017, immediately after a hearing to determine the amount of restitution he owes his victims. Judge Koh further ordered that until the restitution hearing, Miles will remain on electronic monitoring and must remain at his residence with limited exceptions.  

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amber Rosen and Patrick Delahunty prosecuted the case with the assistance of Nina Williams and Susan Kreider.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS.

Financial Fraud
Updated September 5, 2017