RECENT EVENTS: Jury Trial re Erin Todd was held from September 11-13, 2012 in East St. Louis, Illinois, before Judge Michael J. Reagan. Todd was found guilty. Sentencing was held on January 4 and 7, 2013, in East St. Louis, Illinois, before Judge Michael J. Reagan. Todd was sentenced to 42 months in prison, 5 years supervised release, and ordered to pay a $500 fine and a $100 special assessment fee.
David Johnson pled guilty on August 17, 2012. On December 14, 2012, Johnson was sentenced to 36 months in prison by Judge Michael J. Reagan.
On January 20, 2012, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Illinois returned a one count Indictment against David Johnson, age 33, of Coconut Creek, Florida, and Erin Todd, age 30, of Coconut Creek, Florida, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. The charge arose out of a telemarketing scam which operated in Palm Beach County, Florida that bilked over 22,000 victims of $30 million dollars. They victimized 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 seven (27) of the thirty eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
The indictment alleges that both David Johnson and Erin Todd were telemarketers who worked for Creative Vacation Solutions. The indictment further alleges that Johnson, Todd, and others made a roughly 7 minute infomercial promoting Creative Vacation Solutions. Done in the format of a news segment for the fictional “Close Up TV News,” the segment was hosted by an actor who played the host of the “People’s Court.” In this fake news segment, the reporter described Creative Vacation Solutions as “remarkably effective” in putting buyers and sellers of timeshare units together. Johnson and Todd played the role of a happy couple who owned a timeshare unit that was purportedly sold by CVS. Johnson told the viewers that they had been contacted by CVS, gave CVS “a chance” and within sixty days received a check for the “full amount for what our unit was worth,” a check represented to be $36,000. In the segment, the indictment alleges, Todd nodded her agreement to the amount of the check and to JOHNSON’S statement “I couldn’t be happier....” It is alleged that the commercial was placed on CVS’s website, was uploaded to YouTube, was sent on a CD-ROM to CVS’s customers and is believed to have aired on cable channels. The indictment alleges that the commercial itself represented that CVS advertised on Bravo, A&E, the Travel Channel and Fox News.
Several others have been charged in connection with the Creative Vacation Solutions telemarketing scam. On June 30, 2011, Jennifer Kirk pled guilty to a criminal information. She was sentenced on January 9, 2012 to over 16 years imprisonment and five years supervised release. On August 17, 2011, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis charged Ryan Brazel, Brian Morris and Steve Folan in a multi-count indictment for their involvement in the alleged scheme. Folan pled guilty on November 17, 2011. His sentencing is set for March 9, 2012 in East St. Louis. Trial for Brazel and Morris is currently set for February 27, 2012. Joel Intravaia pled guilty to conspiracy in an information filed on August 19, 2011. He was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment and three (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 two (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. Sentencing for Foote and Grizzanti is scheduled for March 30, 2012 in the Southern District of Florida. 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. John Thomas Egan pled guilty to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on January 6, 2012. His sentencing is set for April 16, 2012.
The criminal charges follows an investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Reppert and United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.