Cazenovia Man Sentenced to 5 Years on Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – James P. Griffin, 71, of Cazenovia, was sentenced today to 5 years imprisonment, ordered to pay a $2,300 special assessment and $2,153,530.93 in restitution announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, IRS Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Kathy A. Enstrom, and FBI Albany Division Special Agent in Charge Andrew Vale.
“This massive fraud caused harm that can never be fully repaid. Today’s sentence represents a measure of justice for the victims who will suffer the effects of these crimes for years to come,” said United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.
“Mr. Griffin knowingly mixed deceit and trickery into the financial well-being of individuals and created a recipe for devastation that could last a lifetime,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office. “Today's sentencing demonstrates how federal law enforcement will band together to help put an end to the criminal behavior of those who prey on investors for their personal financial gain. IRS Criminal investigators will continue to use their financial expertise to identify and trace laundered funds in these types of fraud schemes.”
“Mr. Griffin’s fraudulent and criminal acts cost his victims millions of dollars,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. “At its most basic level, this is a crime about greed and abuse of trust. The FBI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to stop those who line their pockets at the expense of others.”
Griffin was found guilty of fraud and money laundering charges following a jury trial in federal court in July. He is the Chief Executive Officer of several companies using variations of the names 54 Freedom and 5 Ledyard, all headquartered at 5 Ledyard Avenue, Cazenovia, New York. The evidence at trial demonstrated that Griffin solicited over $1.6 million in sales through a scheme involving a financial product he named, “the 54 Freedom Charitable Gift Annuity.” Trial testimony established that Griffin promised that the product was backed by a highly-rated, major insurance carrier and would provide guaranteed lifetime income to the purchaser. The evidence showed that, in fact, Griffin knew the Charitable Gift Annuities were not underwritten by insurance companies, and purchasers received no payments after 2013.
The jury also found Griffin guilty of mail fraud based on a scheme to entice investors to use retirement funds to invest in his companies by falsely promising to protect them from the tax consequences of withdrawing funds from qualified retirement accounts. The total loss from both schemes is more than $2.1 million dollars.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward R. Broton and Carina H. Schoenberger.