Ex-Broker Gets 20 Years in Prison Over Ponzi, COVID-19 Fraud Schemes

A judge holding a gavel in a court room

What You Need to Know

As part of a Ponzi scheme that ex-broker Christopher Parris helped run, hundreds of investors were bilked out of about $115 million.
Parris was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to the Ponzi scheme and wire fraud involving the fraudulent sale of purported N95 masks during the pandemic.
Co-defendant Perry Santillo was previously sentenced to serve 17.5 years in prison for his role in running the Ponzi scheme.

A former registered broker has been sentenced to over 20 years in prison for his role in running a nationwide Ponzi scheme in which hundreds of investors were bilked out of about $115 million and his part in a COVID-19 fraud scheme, according to the Justice Department and court documents.

Christopher A. Parris, 42, formerly of Rochester, New York, and currently of Lawrenceville, Georgia, obtained about $7.4 million by falsely claiming to have U.S.-made N95 masks he could sell to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and various medical companies during the height of the pandemic, the Justice Department said.

Parris was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to the Ponzi scheme and wire fraud involving the fraudulent sale of purported N95 masks during the pandemic.

On Dec. 19 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Parris was sentenced to serve 244 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr.

“The schemes for which this defendant was sentenced, including the purported sale of non-existent medical supplies during the pandemic, were outrageous,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement on Dec. 20.

Parris and his co-defendant, Perry Santillo, “engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud hundreds of victims out of approximately $115 million,” Trini Ross, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said in a statement.

In January, Santillo was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for his role in running the nationwide Ponzi scheme after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money, according to the Justice Department.

Geraci also sentenced Santillo to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $102.95 million in restitution to the victims of his fraud, according to the sentencing document filed in court that day.