Rochester man going to prison and ordered to pay millions in restitution for his role in Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars


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Date: November 4, 2021


Rochester, NY — U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that John Piccarreto, Jr., of Rochester, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and filing a false tax return, was sentenced to serve 84 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. the defendant was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $19,842,613.66.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who handled the case, stated that between 2017 and June 2018, the defendant conspired with co-defendants Perry Santillo, Christopher Parris and others, to obtain money through an investment fraud commonly known as a Ponzi scheme. The scheme, which was conducted under the umbrella of a business entity called Lucian Development, involved the sale of fraudulent promissory notes that were issued under the names various entities that Santillo and Parris controlled, including Lucian Development. The issuers received money from new investors, and then redistributed that money to repay earlier investors, to pay the expenses of the scheme, and to finance the lifestyles of Santillo, Parris and others involved in the scheme. Piccarreto was initially unaware that the business was a Ponzi scheme when he began working for Lucian Development in March 2012. As he gained experience with investments and obtained a securities license, Piccarreto's responsibilities increased. By January 2017, the defendant realized that the Lucian Development business was, indeed, a Ponzi scheme after the company stopped paying promised returns to client investors whom he serviced. However, rather than severing his association with Lucian Development, Piccarreto continued to work for Santillo and Parris, knowingly lying to investors by falsely reassuring them that their investments were safe and secure, even though he knew this was not true, and encouraging investors to "reinvest" their fraudulent investments by signing new promissory notes.

Between January 1, 2017, and June 19, 2018, Piccarreto was involved in defrauding approximately 400 investors out of approximately $18,081,556, which resulted in financial hardship to more than 25 of its investor victims. Piccarreto also admitted that, while working in Texas, he personally solicited and defrauded at least eight investors out of approximately $598,695. In addition, on his 2017 tax return, the defendant claimed a taxable income of $6,576. In fact, Piccarreto's taxable income was approximately $538,548, which resulted in the defendant avoided paying income taxes to the IRS in the amount of approximately $159,423.

Perry Santillo and Christopher Parris were previously convicted and are awaiting sentencing.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge; the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Ketty Larco-Ward, Boston Division; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Buffalo Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia, and FBI Scranton Division; the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations – Labor Racketeering and Fraud, under the direction of Jonathan Mellone, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Region, the New York State Department of Financial Services, under the direction of Acting Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris; and the Securities and Exchange Commission.