An appeals court has upheld the four-year prison term of a former collection agency executive who was the mastermind behind a $12 million fraud scheme from January 2007 to March 2011.
Peter Pinto was the former CEO of Oxford Collection Agency. He is currently serving a sentence in West Virginia but had filed an appeal to the length of the term. He pled guilty more than two years ago to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. The fraud led to the arrest and sentencing of several Oxford executives, including members of Pinto's family.
A three-judge panel in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Pinto's sentence was fair. The 48-month term of incarceration, in fact, fell "substantially below the applicable guidelines range," according to the panel.
Oxford from January 2007 through March 2011 collected debts for clients in the bank card, credit card, telecom and consumer credit industries under the pretense that they would report all collections to clients.
In early 2007, the Pintos secured a credit line from Connecticut-based Webster Bank without informing the lender about Oxfords significant client backlogs or outstanding payroll taxes.
The Pintos and others sent doctored financial statements to Webster Bank, eventually increasing the credit line to $6 million. They then laundered funds from the credit line to promote the fraud scheme against their clients.
During that same period, the Pintos solicited millions of dollars in investments from investors without disclosing to investors the existence of their backlogs. The Pintos transferred some of the investor funds into patriarch Richard Pintos personal bank account without investor knowledge.
Richard Pinto - Peter's father - served as the chairman of the board of Oxford during this time. He was sentenced to 60 months of prison in January 2013. He has since died.
Peter Pinto served as president and CEO, overseeing the company's daily activities. The company was based in Fort Pierce, Fla., with offices in Melville, N.Y. and Scranton, Pa. The company was mostly engaged in debt collections.
In December 2012, Oxford Vice President of Finance and CFO Randall Silver, EVP Charles Harris and COO Carlos Novelli also pleaded guilty to various charges.
Oxford executives made monthly payments of between $2,500 and $3,500 that were hidden in cigar boxes, to an assistant vice president of U.S. Bank in Ohio. U.S. Bank and Webster Bank received funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasury Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Wilbur Tate III, a former assistant vice president of U.S. Bank in Ohio, in February 2013 was arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to commit bank bribery. Tate worked as the bank's assistant vice president between January 2004 and February 2011.
Patrick Pinto, a former vice president at Oxford, was sentenced in 2013 in federal court to two years of probation for bribing Tate. He had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit bank bribery.