PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Cranston man was sentenced in Kent County Superior Court to serve three years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after being found guilty of perpetrating a $50,000 fraudulent investment scheme against his neighbor between 2015 and 2018.
On December 1, 2021, following the conclusion of a three-day trial before Superior Court Justice Luis A. Matos, a jury found John Conley (age 73) guilty of one count of unlawful appropriation over $1,000 and one count of obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500.
At a hearing on February 11, 2022, before Judge Matos, the Court sentenced the defendant to 10 years, with three years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation. The court further ordered that the defendant pay $44,000 in restitution to his victim. The Office of the Attorney General recommended to the Court that the defendant be sentenced to 20 years, with seven years to serve and the balance suspended with probation, accompanied by restitution.
“The defendant here, a recidivist fraudster, plainly thought he could sneak a fastball by a jury of his peers and avoid accountability for his latest illegal scheme. The jury saw his conduct for what it was, and appropriately so,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The defendant lied to his neighbor, persuaded him to part with his money, and then lined his own pockets. The sentence handed down today should finally persuade him to earn his own money rather than steal it from those around him. I am grateful to the Rhode Island State Police for their usual excellent investigative work and partnership in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”
During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that between 2015 and 2018, the defendant convinced a neighbor to invest $50,000 into a fraudulent investment scheme in which the defendant converted thousands of dollars to spend on personal expenses.
In 2018, the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) Financial Crimes Unit initiated an investigation into allegations of a fraudulent investment scheme perpetrated by the defendant following a complaint by the defendant’s neighbor.
During the investigation, the RISP determined that in 2015, the defendant used fraudulent financial statements to convince his neighbor to invest $50,000 into a company that he owned, Legends Acquisitions, LLC. In investment documents presented as evidence at trial, the defendant provided his neighbor with the opportunity to either receive his $50,000 investment back after three years plus $18,000 in interest, or an option to convert his $50,000 investment into $100,000 worth of shares in Legends Acquisitions, LLC.
During that time, the defendant only paid his neighbor $6,000 and ultimately never returned his $50,000 investment.
At trial, the State provided evidence that the defendant used thousands of dollars from the investment for personal expenses, including purchases at Brooks Brothers, Macy’s, haircuts, dry cleaning, and ATM withdrawals.
On April 3, 2019, the RISP arrested the defendant. He was charged by way of criminal information one month later in Kent County Superior Court.
The defendant was previously convicted of eight counts of federal wire fraud in 2006 and sentenced to 21 months to serve in prison.
“I’m proud of the hard work that our troopers and our financial crimes unit put into this case,” said Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. “Their efforts – and the diligence of Attorney General Neronha and his team – led to the appropriate outcome in this case. Justice is served.”
Special Assistant Attorney General John Malloy of the Office of the Attorney General and Detective Courtney Elliott of the RISP Financial Crimes Unit led the investigation and prosecution of the case.