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Article updated: 4/30/2013 4:00 PM

Ponzi scheme hatched in jail sends suburban men back to prison

By Jamie Sotonoff

Three middle-aged men who met in jail and hatched a Ponzi-type investment fraud scheme together were all sent back to prison last week for bilking more than 100 people out of $3.6 million.

Christopher Andersen, 57, formerly of Downers Grove, Daniel Parrilli, 62, formerly of Carol Stream, and John Lauer, 48, formerly of Chicago, who once worked as the Chicago Housing Authority's director of risk management and benefits, all pleaded guilty to fraud and were sentenced to between 2 and 8 years in jail by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall.

Anderson received his 95-month jail sentence last fall and was ordered to pay more than $3.7 million in restitution. Last week, Parrilli and Lauer were sentenced. Parrilli was sentenced to 70 months in jail, starting Aug. 1, and ordered to pay more than $3.65 million in restitution. Lauer was sentenced to 31 months behind bars, starting June 12, and ordered to pay roughly $457,000 in restitution.

Anderson and Parrilli purported to run a business, Sundown Entertainment Inc., that bought and sold films and comic-book rights. They raised more than $7 million from about 150 investors, promising them returns of between 10 and 150 percent over a period of months, or as short as a few days. Lauer entered the scheme later, while on supervised release from prison, and lulled victims with false assurances about their investments, according to the U.S. attorneys office.

Many of the victims depleted their 401Ks, or used college savings accounts and home loans, in to order to invest, government attorneys said.

The three men met while incarcerated for other financial fraud crimes at the federal prison in Oxford, Wis., the U.S. attorneys office said.

Andersen had been convicted of selling fraudulent investments using promissory notes. He continued to engage in additional fraud schemes even after he pleaded guilty in the Sundown case, the U.S. attorneys office said.

Parrilli had been jailed for bank fraud and fraudulently using aliases to obtain credit cards, and Lauer had been convicted in an investment scheme that resulted in losses of more than $20 million, including about $15 million in CHA pension funds.

The U.S. Attorney, the FBI, and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, and the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force all assisted in the investigation. For more on the task force, see StopFraud.gov.

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