A Rochester-area man who admitted to a key role in a massive $100 million Ponzi scheme was sentenced Thursday to more than 17 years.
Perry Santillo, 41, and business partners obtained at least $115.5 million from close to 1,000 investors between 2012 and June 2018, according to his plea. They still owed investors almost $71 million in principal alone in mid-2018.
U.S. District Judge Frank Geraci Jr. Thursday sentenced Santillo to 210 months in prison.
John Piccarreto Jr. pleaded guilty last year to colluding with Santillo in the Ponzi scheme and was sentenced in December to seven years. However, Santillo and co-conspirator Christopher Parris, who also pleaded guilty last year, were the ringleaders of the fraud.
Parris not only admitted to the Ponzi scheme, but he also tried to dupe Veterans Affairs in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. He claimed he could provide 125 million respiratory masks for $6.45 apiece — a claim that turned out to be a lie.
Parris has yet to be sentenced.
Santillo and Parris ran the Lucian Development investment firm, which was headquartered in Rochester. In 2007, the two bought the assets of an investment business with the knowledge that its former owner had lost millions.
They then utilized the Ponzi scheme to try to recoup the losses, but instead cheated investors while spending millions of the stolen money for themselves. Some retirees lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, seeing their very financial future destroyed.
Santillo had a…