10 August – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael S. Clemens, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced today that defendant, David Lee Ellisor, was sentenced to eighty seven (87) months in prison on mail fraud charges.
The charges arose from an event called “Christmas From Around the World,” which Ellisor had falsely promised to stage for Miami-Dade County elementary school children in December 2003. On February 7, 2005, a federal jury convicted Ellisor of eight (8) counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. Ellisor was sentenced by visiting Judge Richard Goldberg of the United States Court of International Trade, who also presided over the trial. In addition to the term of imprisonment, Ellisor was ordered to pay $38,509.09 in restitution to Miami-Dade County schools that had collected money from children and their parents for the event. Ellisor was further ordered to serve three (3) years’ supervised release after his release from imprisonment and to pay a special assessment of $800.
According to the 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.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “White collar criminals often target the weakest members of our community, including the young and the elderly. We will not allow unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of our community to line their own pockets. We will vigorously prosecute these cases.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Shipley.