A Rochester, N.Y. man was sentenced to seven years in prison after previously pleading guilty to his role in a Ponzi scheme in which he helped defraud approximately 400 investors out of about $18 million, according to the Department of Justice.

John Piccarreto pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and for filing a false tax return, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. In addition to his sentence, Piccarreto was ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $19.8 million.

According to the DOJ, Piccarreto joined a business entity called Lucian Development in 2012, which was controlled by Perry Santillo and Christopher Parris. Unbeknownst to Piccarreto when he joined, the company sold fraudulent promissory notes to unsuspecting investors under the names of various business entities Santillo and Parris controlled.

Money coming in from new investors would be used to repay earlier investors, as well as fund the expenses of keeping the scheme going and for Santillo and Parris’ personal expenses. The Securities and Exchange Commission successfully shut down the Ponzi scheme in 2018.

When Piccaretto began at Lucian, his responsibilities were minimal, including completing transaction paperwork for clients, but they increased over time after he gained experience and obtained a securities license, according to Piccarreto’s plea agreement.

By January 2017, Piccarreto uncovered the truth about…

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