Criminal Justice

Lawyer Is Sentenced to Prison for Role in $52M Ponzi Scheme

A suburban Kansas City, Mo., lawyer has been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $34 million restitution for his role in a $52 million Ponzi scheme.

James Scott Brown, 67, was sentenced on Tuesday, report the Kansas City Business Journal, the Daily RFT, the Associated Press and a press release. Brown, of Leawood, Kan., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in September.

Brown was accused of participating in a Ponzi scheme in which victims believed they were loaning money for legitimate real estate development projects. Two co-defendants have not yet been sentenced.

One of them, Martin Sigillito, is also a lawyer and an ordained priest in the church of the American Anglican Convocation. He was convicted at trial of leading the conspiracy, according to the press release. He was accused of pooling lender funds in his attorney trust account and using part of the money to pay fees to Brown and himself. On Tuesday, a judge denied Sigillito’s motion for a new trial, which had asserted that the prosecution made improper references to Bernard Madoff, the Daily RFT says.

Brown was accused of taking fees of about $1.4 million, and Sigillito of taking fees of about $6 million. About $27 million went toward paying interest and principal to lenders. Sigillito was accused of spending the money on rare and antique books, maps, prints, coins, jewelry, artifacts, liquor and rugs.

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