Prison for couple in $23M scam - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Prison for couple in $23M scam

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Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:21 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

The married couple that operated an Oro Valley restaurant has received stiff prison sentences following convictions for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Mario Easevoli, 33, was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison, and his wife Jennifer Easevoli, 29, received nine years for their roles in a scam that defrauded communications company Cisco Systems out of an estimate $23 million. Jennifer, whose maiden name is Harmon, graduated from Canyon Del Oro High School in 1999.

The case was arbitrated in the Eastern District Federal Court of North Carolina in Raleigh, where the Easevolis maintained a house.

The pair owned and operated the now-closed Angelina's Ristorante, 12152 N. Rancho Vistoso Boulevard, at the time of their arrest in September 2009 at their Vail-area home.

In addition to prison terms, both offenders would be required to fulfill three years of supervised release after their prison terms.

Also convicted was Jason Allan Conway, 34, who worked for the Easevolis in North Carolina and participated in the criminal enterprise. Conway received four years in prison. Mario Easevoli and Conway also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

The trio was ordered to pay more a total of more than $21 million in restitution. The restitution could come from seized property, assets and the garnishment of future wages.

Federal indictment papers said that from 2003 to 2005, Mario Easevoli masterminded a scheme to submit fraudulent claims to Cisco for replacement communications equipment, which they later sold.

The Easevolis and Conway exploited a Cisco Systems service that allows customers to order replacement computer parts online. The company will send customers replacement parts prior to receiving the defective part.

The Easevolis created more than 50 shell companies and 35 fictitious identities to forward the scam. They were able to obtain legitimate serial numbers for the Cisco parts that they claimed were defective, and had them sent to rented mailboxes in numerous states.

All told, investigators say the company's losses associated with the Easevolis' scam total more than $23 million. They funneled the money through a company they operated in North Carolina called Synergy Communications Corporation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service all participated in the investigation.

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