Former CEO of Sunwest Management Ordered to Pay Over $74 Million in Restitution to More than 1,400 Victims
PORTLAND, Ore. – On April 30, 2015, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced Blancey Lee, 40, of Portland, to 24 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit money laundering and his filing of false personal income taxes for 2012. Judge Robert E. Jones also ordered Blancey Lee to pay $2,599,809.07 in restitution to the victim. In addition to the prison sentence, the defendant must also serve three years of post-prison supervised release. The co-defendant, Rachel Lee, 44, of Canby, Oregon was sentenced on February 19th, 2015 by U.S. District Judge Jones to serve 100 months in federal prison, and pay $15,490,978.65 in restitution. Co-defendant, Porsha Lee, 25, of Northern California, was sentenced on March 15, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Jones to serve 33 months in federal prison and pay $12,822,262.25. The co-defendants restitution obligations are joint and several.
“Individuals who knowingly steal from the vulnerable or benefit and turn a blind eye to these predatory acts will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “Due to the combined efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, and the effective use of federal forfeiture, the victim is now safe and financially stable. We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to hold self-serving crooks accountable, protect victims, and seek full restitution.”
The victim met codefendant Rachel Lee in 2004 when he visited her Psychic Shop in Bend, Oregon. At the time, Blancey Lee and Rachel Lee lived together as a couple at the Psychic Shop and presented themselves as husband and wife. Between 2004 and 2006, Rachel Lee fostered a friendship with the victim for the purpose of extracting money from him. As a result of her lies and the trust she established with the victim, Rachel Lee assumed a role as paid care giver to the victim’s elderly father by 2007. Trusting her to act in his best interest, the victim also turned over all personal and business account control to Rachel Lee. While controlling the victim’s finances, Rachel Lee, Blancey Lee, and their families lived in a million-dollar home in the Portland West Hills purchased with the victim’s money.
Rachel Lee recruited members of her family to play key roles in the fraud scheme. Rachel Lee and her daughter Porsha Lee created a fake persona and introduced this character to the victim. They named the character Mary Marks. This character wore a blond wig, glasses, a hat and sported a British accent. Porsha Lee as Mary Marks met the victim and used information her mother provided her to connect with the victim. Porsha Lee as Marks claimed to be a bookkeeper, and soon after began assisting Rachel Lee with the management of the victim’s accounts.
By 2011 the victim believed he and Marks married and had a child. The child presented to the victim as his son is actually one of Rachel Lee’s grandchildren. Digital images reveal years of holidays, birthdays and events with the victim, Rachel Lee, Porsha Lee as Marks, and their purported child.
Between 2007 and 2011 Rachel Lee directed the victim to incrementally liquidate investments accounts totaling approximately $3.8 million dollars. After depleting the victim’s investment account, Rachel Lee convinced the victim he owed substantial taxes and needed to sell his family’s Tree Farm. At Rachel Lee’s direction, the Tree Farm properties were sold for a total of approximately $12.3 million dollars.
Rachel Lee, Blancey Lee, and Lee family members spent the victim’s fortune on a luxury lifestyle. Rachel Lee and Blancey Lee spent funds on high-roller trips to Las Vegas, trips to California, and a first class trip to Europe in 2013. Rachel Lee also spent her ill-gotten gains on luxury clothing and jewelry, including a $64,000 Rolex watch for Blancey Lee. While selling off the victim’s property, Rachel Lee and Blancey Lee purchased a 2012 Bentley Mulsanne and 2012 Ferrari on a single day, and plated those vehicles “MRBIG” and “MRBIG1”. Finally, between 2010 and 2013, Rachel Lee and Blancey Lee used the victim’s money to purchase at least ten properties at a cost of approximately $3.3 million dollars. Rachel Lee and Blancey Lee used four of the properties – in Bend, Portland, Canby, and Scappoose – as Psychic Shops.
As a result of investigators’ foresight, before the defendants were arrested or charged, bank accounts worth approximately $1.9 million dollars and assets including a 2012 Ferrari California and 1955 Chevy Bel-Air were identified and immediately seized to be forfeited and returned to the victim before they could be dissipated by the defendants.
By the time of Rachel Lee’s arrest and indictment in May 2014, the victim held less than $250,000 in accounts under his control. Through the initiation of forfeiture proceedings, the Bentley, the Ferrari, the Bel-Air, and 10 real properties have already been returned to the victim, and efforts are underway to restore to the victim the $1.9 million in cash seized and forfeited from bank accounts. The government is initiating civil forfeiture proceedings to liquidate numerous Rolexes and other designer goods purchased by the defendants and will provide those proceeds to the victim.
“Greed and deceit led to incredible financial harm to the victim in this case,” said Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. “While the recovery of funds and assets could never fully heal the wounds he sustained from being robbed of earnings derived over several generations, we successfully salvaged a significant portion of the money syphoned off by the Lee’s treachery. I am pleased that we will be able to return all the recovered funds and proceeds from the sale of assets to the victim.”
Canby Police Chief Bret Smith, said: “The Canby Police would like to express our appreciation and acknowledgement to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and to the Internal Revenue Service for their support and the many extra hours of hard work it took to bring this criminal investigation to a successful resolution”.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and the Canby Police Department with assistance from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, the Oregon Department of Justice, and the Portland Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Brecker Maddux and Assistant U.S. Attorney AnneMarie Sgarlata.