Canadian David Wells, one of three men who allegedly netted more than $160 million from at least one million U.S. companies in what authorities said was the largest cross-border mail fraud scheme ever, was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $75,000 by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster last Friday in Pittsburgh, PA.
Wells, of Toronto, Canada, who pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud earlier this year was also fined $75,000.
He was indicted two years ago by federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on a series of mail fraud charges with Lloyd Prudenza, also of Toronto, and Lawrence Titchell, of Deerfield Beach, FL.
Wells and Prudenza, who fled to the Caribbean before they could be extradited to the U.S., along with Titchell, were accused in the indictment of falsely billing more than one million large and small companies across the U.S. for non-existent ads in Yellow Pages directories between 1993 and 1998.
Wells and Prudenza were apprehended in the Caribbean late last year and voluntarily returned to the U.S.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Carlin said the trio, who collected a whopping $161.1 million, prepared the bogus bills for either $147 or $197 in Canada and deposited them in U.S. Postal Service facilities in major cities throughout the U.S. for processing and delivery.
She also said they used more than 100 commercial mail receiving agencies in both the U.S. and Canada to receive reply mail payments which were later deposited in a Canadian bank.
Titchell, who also pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, was sentenced in February by Judge Lancaster to 37 months in prison. Prudenza, who also pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, faces sentencing later this month.