Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, announced that defendants James Settembrino, Lee Samuel, Bernardo Susi, Charles Bohn and Benjamin Goss were sentenced today for conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with their activities at Cash Link Systems, Inc., of Hollywood, Florida. Settembrino was sentenced to a term of 57 months’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $1,508,394.98 in restitution. Samuel was sentenced to a term of 46 months’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $2,485,576.27 in restitution. Susi was sentenced to a term of 41 months’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $1,762,789.90 in restitution. Bohn was sentenced to a term of 27 months’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $685,460.64 in restitution. Goss was sentenced to a term of 4 months’ imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $109,215 in restitution.
According to court records, the defendants and others engaged in the fraudulent sale of business opportunities through Cash Link Systems, Inc. Cash Link purported to sell cash-less ATMs to the public, along with assistance in establishing, maintaining, and operating a cash-less ATM business. Potential purchasers were told that after being placed in the locations provided by Cash Link, the cash-less ATMs would be used by members of the public, who would swipe their debit cards and receive a receipt. The receipt, in turn, could be taken to the location’s cash register for cash or store credit. According to the defendants and their co-conspirators, a business opportunity purchaser would earn substantial profits from the ATM fees generated when members of the public used the purchaser’s cash-less ATMs.
Cash Link promoted the business opportunities to consumers across the country through television commercials, the Internet, and other media, misrepresenting the profits that could be earned by purchasing a Cash Link distributorship, and urging consumers to call a telephone number that appeared in the advertisements. Potential purchasers were told that for a purchase price of approximately $12,000, Cash Link would perform the most difficult and time consuming part of the business by securing viable locations in which to place the cash-less ATMs. Consumers were also told that Cash Link would find appropriate, viable, and high-traffic locations to place the kiosks, relocate any kiosk that underperformed, and only sell distributorships in a limited geographic area. The defendants and others falsely represented to potential purchasers that they would earn their investment back in 12 months or less. The defendants and others fraudulently induced over 800 consumers to invest a total of approximately $15 million in Cash Link.
Settembrino, Samuel, Susi and Bohn were Cash Link salesmen who were paid to misrepresent Cash Link’s opportunity to potential purchasers. Goss served as an “outside locator,” hired to find high-traffic locations for purchasers’ cash-less ATMs.
In sentencing Settembrino, U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas found that Settembrino’s conduct at Cash Link violated a prior court order instituted as a result of a Federal Trade Commission case.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Postal Inspection Service. This case is being prosecuted by Richard Goldberg, Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Litigation.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.