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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bishop-Attorney Was a Ponzi Man

ST. LOUIS (CN) - He was a man of God and an attorney, and now he's a felon: the architect of the largest Ponzi scheme ever in the Eastern District of Missouri, federal prosecutors said.

A federal jury convicted Martin Sigillito, 63, of Webster Groves, of 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, in a scheme that bilked investors of $52 million over a decade.

Sigillito, an American Anglican bishop and lawyer, recruited more than 150 investors from his country club and from around the country. Prosecutors said he promised rich returns from the British Lending Program - which he claimed was making smart land purchases in England - but the money never made it overseas.

Prosecutors said Sigillito and his two partners - James Scott Brown, 66, of Leawood, Kan., and Derek J. Smith, 67, of the United Kingdom - set up a classic Ponzi scheme, using money from new investors to pay off old investors. The trio took more than a 30 percent cut and the scheme lasted 10 years until it ended in 2010.

Brown and Smith each testified against Sigillito as part of plea deals on other charges.

Sigillito's sentencing date is pending.

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