You've seen it in movies and tv shows related to crime or criminal activity especially with larger groups -- and that's the act, process of money laundering.

What started out as a relatively smallish operation turned into a national Ponzi scheme.

There is a Rochester, New York man who will spend the next 17.5-years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money, according to a statement from the DOJ/U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross with the Western District of New York.

In addition to prison time, Perry Santillo, 41, must also pay restitution in the amount of $102,952,582.77.

Santillo conspired with a man by the name of Christopher Parris, among others, to run the Ponzi scheme that lasted 10-years between January of 2008 and June of 2018, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who oversaw the case.

The Ponzi scheme partners started a business in 2007, called 'Lucian Development' based in Rochester, New York.

They would solicit investments for City Capital Corporation which was run buy Ephren Taylor.

Then, that July, Santillo and Parris, were told by Ephren Taylor that the investors money was lost and a month later they both agreed to but the assets and debts of City Capital Corporation, according to U.S. Attorney Ross.

Both men then hatched a plan not to tell the active investors that the money was gone and instead doubled down and decided to collect money from new investors -- and all the while the debt was steep and the assets under water.

That's where the Ponzi scheme really turned to another level as Santillo and Parris bought the businesses of 15 investment advisors/brokers across several states from Tennessee and Ohio to Minnesota, Nevada, California, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Indiana, according to U.S. Attorney Ross.

All in all, both men targeted about 1,000 investors and brought in a minimum of $115.5-million over a six-year period starting in 2012.

When their luck ran out, they returned about $44.8-million to investors while still owing about $70.7-million.

“For years, Perry Santillo preyed on investors who placed their trust in him to properly invest their hard-earned money,” U.S. Attorney Ross said in a statement. “However, Santillo abused the trust of those investors to finance his own self-interests. Because of the hard work of law enforcement to expose Santillo’s fraudulent scheme, he is facing the consequences of his actions, including going to prison.”

“IRS-CI agents are known for following the money trail, and in this case, it stretched nearly a decade long and involved more than 1,000 victims and $100 million,” Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS-CI New York Field Office, said in a statement. “I am grateful to our agents and law enforcement partners who helped unravel this Ponzi scheme, and I hope the scheme’s victims have closure today knowing that justice was served.”

Parris, by the way, has been convicted and is currently awaiting sentencing.

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