August 15, 2005
Christmas Show Fraud Nets 87-Month Prison Term
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida announced that David Ellisor received an 87-month prison term for defrauding a number of South Florida schools into paying $10 per child for a show called "Christmas Around the World" that was completely fictitious. According to the press release (here):
[T]he evidence presented at trial and during the sentencing hearing, Ellisor targeted students and teachers at Miami-Dade County public and private schools for a "once in a lifetime" Christmas show at the Coconut Grove Convention Center. Ellisor promised that the event would be attended by Ambassadors from over 28 countries, and promised that students attending the event would receive raffle tickets to win "thousands of dollars of sponsored gifts." Over 2,700 victims, from 22 Miami-area schools, paid the $10 per person fee demanded by Ellisor, and made arrangements to attend the event, supposedly scheduled for December 3-5, 2003. Local businesses also provided money to Ellisor based upon his promises about the event. When the first group of students arrived at the Convention Center on the morning of December 3, they found the building locked, with no information about the event, and Ellisor nowhere to be found.
Ellisor spent the morning of December 3 emptying the show's bank account of over $4,000 and using some of that money to complete the purchase of a Jaguar automobile. Ellisor collected thousands of dollars in fees for the event, but did not meet the requirements to stage an event at the Convention Center. Instead, he used the money for personal expenses such as a hotel suite, luxury rental cars, special-order clothing, and a watch whose value he estimated at $5000. The Court found at sentencing that Ellisor had in the past failed to provide refunds for non-existent shows targeted toward children at various locations throughout the United States.
2,700 schoolchildren as victims is sure to trigger a substantial prison term. (ph)
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