James Merrill sentenced to six years prison for TelexFree fraud
The DOJ wanted ten years, Merrill’s lawyers argued for just over a year… Judge Hillman mulled both side’s arguments and decided on six years.
The criminal case docket has yet to update but the Boston Globe are reporting James Merrill, co-owner of the $3 billion dollar TelexFree Ponzi scheme, has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Merrill, whose wife, children, and friends were in the court room, apologized to his victims before he was sentenced.
“It’s awful and I don’t have words I can give these people for what they’ve suffered,” he said. “I’m sorry for this whole disaster.”
Merrill has been ordered to surrender to authorities by May 15th.
His sentencing brings us closer to closing the TelexFree Ponzi saga, however Carlos Wanzeler, Merrill’s partner in crime, remains a fugitive in his native Brazil.
US authorities recently indicted Wanzeler’s nephew on related money laundering charges.
As for Merrill, his six-year sentence is the ultimate price he’ll pay for making millions off the back of Ponzi fraud.
“All he had to do was get up and leave,” prosecutor Andrew Lelling said. “There’s a difference between what you say and what you actually do.”
In addition to prison time, Merrill has been stripped of his illegal earnings, reputation and evidently hard-worked for standing in his local community.
Although it’s difficult to predict, I’d say Merrill’s six years suggests if he ever does face trial in the US, Wanzeler is probably looking at a minimum eight year sentence (probably closer to ten).
Update 24th June 2017 – A June 22nd Status Report filed by the DOJ in the SEC’s civil case against TelexFree reveals;
On May 31, 2017, Mr. Merrill reported to the Bureau of Prisons.
Pending news about the status of Wanzeler in Brazil, I assume the SEC’s civil case will resume some point soon.