Restaurateurs ran $23M scam, feds say - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Restaurateurs ran $23M scam, feds say

Husband, wife accused in scheme against computer giant Cisco Systems

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Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:24 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

The husband and wife team that operated an Oro Valley restaurant has been accused in a federal court in North Carolina of masterminding a multi-million dollar graft.

Mario Easevoli, 33, and Jennifer Easevoli, 28, former proprietors of Angelina's Ristorante at 12152 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd., stand accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.

A federal indictment says the pair, along with an accomplice named Jason Allan Conway, 33, scammed computer-networking giant Cisco Systems, Inc., out of goods valued by Cisco at $23 million.

The Easevolis ran North Carolina-based Synergy Communications Corporation, which resold Cisco replacement parts, according to federal authorities.

Federal marshals from North Carolina arrested the Easevolis on Sept. 28 in the Tucson area. A representative with the U.S. Marshal's office said Conway was not arrested.

Jennifer Easevoli was released on her own recognizance on Oct. 1. She was ordered to remain either in North Carolina or Arizona. Conditions of her release mandate that she look for employment, refrain from drug or alcohol use and participate in mental-health treatment. Jennifer Harmon graduated from Canyon Del Oro High School in 1999.

Jennifer Easevoli's profile on the Web site classmates.com contains a biographical entry about her post-high school accomplishments. "For those who knew me and doubted me — I made, and I made it big. I am bigger and better than you thought I could be," her profile says.

Mario Easevoli remains in custody in North Carolina. On Oct. 23, a court deemed him a flight risk and a danger to the community. He was assigned a federal public defender.

According to indictment documents, the Easevolis and Conway exploited a Cisco Systems service that allows customers to order replacement computer parts online. Cisco ships the parts to customers, who later return the defective or failed parts to the company.

Federal investigators say the Easevolis created more than 21 fictitious company names and at least 80 e-mail accounts under false names to establish accounts with Cisco.

Those accounts were later used to request parts from Cisco. The defendants had replacement computer parts sent to private mailboxes they set up at UPS stores in eight states.

"The defendants then sold those fraudulently obtained 'replacement' parts to downstream customers and deposited the payments from those customers in a Synergy bank account," according to a federal indictment.

The indictment said Conway and the Easevolis were able to provide Cisco with valid serial numbers for the parts they claimed needed replacing. In some cases, the defendants returned to Cisco parts of lesser value than those the company sent for replacement. Other times, the indictment claims, no parts were ever returned.

The group allegedly ran the scheme between 2003 and 2005.

If convicted on the charges of mail fraud, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The money laundering charges carry the possibility of 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. If convicted, the defendants face the forfeiture of property and cash assets.

The indictment identifies two properties the Easevolis own in Wake County, N.C. The first, a residential property in Raleigh, has an assessed value of $156,816, according to the Wake County Revenue Department. The second property, a commercial property, is valued at $880,729.

Federal authorities say the Easevolis and Conway made at least $7.5 million selling the replacement computer parts.

Synergy, the company federal authorities say the Easevolis used to run the alleged scam, was barred from doing business in North Carolina in 2007.

Corporate records from North Carolina show the Easevolis also ran a restaurant in the state.

A search of the Pima County Assessor's Web site found no properties owned locally by the Easevolis.

Angelina's Ristorante in Rancho Vistoso closed earlier this year. The couple opened a new restaurant, Agave Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge, at the same 12152 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd., address. It closed shortly after. The property remains vacant.

Phone calls to Cisco Systems Inc., public relations personnel were not returned by Monday.

© 2014 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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