Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

West Palm Beach Timeshare Boiler Room Manager Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that Michael Ferrari, 27, of West Palm Beach, pled guilty yesterday afternoon to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Ferrari’s sentencing is scheduled for July 30, 2012.

According to the criminal information and plea documents filed with the court, Ferrari and his co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud timeshare owners throughout the United States and Canada. From July 2009 through February 2010, telemarketers contacted more than 2,000 victims and collected more than $3.3 million in advance fees for timeshare marketing and sales services, which were never provided. The telemarketers, operating under the name International Resort Solutions LLC (IRS), solicited clients through at least six boiler rooms, each of which was located in Palm Beach County. The telemarketers would make false and misleading representations to the timeshare owners regarding IRS’s services. Among the false representations, the telemarketers claimed that IRS had buyers for their timeshares, that IRS had closing scheduled for their timeshares, and that IRS would actively market their timeshares to potential buyers.

Ferrari was a manager of one of the IRS boiler rooms and responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the boiler room and supervising the telemarketers. Earlier this month, six other IRS boiler room managers, Jeffrey Fields, Thomas Ford, Bryan Bergeron, Joshua Holmes, Colin Van Nest Talmage, and Joseph Eichenlaub, also pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with this case. All of these defendants are facing a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 20 years, followed by up to three years of supervised release.

Three other defendants, Michael Franzenburg, Kenneth Foote, Jr., and Joseph Grizzanti were charged in a separate information in connection with the IRS fraud. Franzenburg was the owner of IRS and Foote and Grizzanti were managers of an IRS boiler room. Foote and Grizzanti were recently sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and five years’ imprisonment, respectively.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rabinowitz.

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