RECENT EVENTS: Santiago pled guilty on September 6, 2012. On December 17, 2012, Santiago was sentenced to 20 months in prison by Judge G. Patrick Murphy.
On May 24, 2012, Robert Santiago, 36, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was named in a one-count 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. Consumer were victimized 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 (28) of the thirty eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
The indictment alleges that Santiago was a telemarketer who worked for Creative Vacation Solutions and Universal Marketing Solutions and conducted a telemarketing timeshare resale scheme targeting timeshare owners throughout the United States and Canada. The indictment alleges that Creative Vacation Solutions and Universal Marketing Solutions falsely represented that they had found buyers for the consumers’ timeshare interests and solicited fees of up to several thousand dollars from each consumer in purported pre-paid closing costs and related expenses. The indictment alleges that the purported sales did not occur, closings were not scheduled as was often represented, and, in fact, Creative Vacation Solutions and Universal Marketing Solutions did not successfully sell any consumer’s timeshare interest. It is further alleged that Creative Vacation Solutions and Universal Marketing Solutions devoted essentially no resources to marketing their clients’ timeshare interest and simply pocketed the purported closing costs.
Multiple 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 Steve Folan, Ryan Brazel, and Brian Morris in a multi-count indictment for their involvement in the alleged scheme. Folan, Brazel, and Morris pled guilty. Brazel and Morris are awaiting sentencing on June 29, 2012 and August 17, 2012, respectively. Folan was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three years supervised release. Joel Intravaia pled guilty to conspiracy in an information filed on August 19, 2011. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three 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 in prison and two 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. Foote was sentenced to 72 months on May 11, 2012 and Grizzanti was sentenced to 60 months on May 11, 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. Sentencing of Fields is set for July 12, 2012. John Thomas Egan pled guilty to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on January 6, 2012. His sentencing is set for July 16, 2012. In March 2012, John Robert Eddy, Cloyd James Holmes, Jr., Gino Christopher Marquez, and Donald Myers were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. The four are awaiting trial. Most recently, Daniel L. Gregg, Joshua G. Schneidau, and Lacey Marie Stone were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.
The criminal charges follow an investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Boynton Beach Florida Police Department.
The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Reppert, Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lewis, and U.S. 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.