ATLANTA (CN) - The 11th Circuit affirmed the conviction and 87-month prison sentence of a man who duped parents into shelling out more than $38,000 to send their kids on a fake field trip called "Christmas from Around the World" and used the ticket money to buy a Jaguar.
For each $10 ticket, David Lee Ellisor promised children the chance to meet 28 foreign ambassadors, view Christmas displays from other countries and receive "thousands of dollars" of sponsored gifts.
Teachers from 23 schools filled out registration forms reserving tickets for about 2,700 third- to fifth-grade students. The defendant falsely claimed the show was sponsored by the University of Miami, the Doubletree Hotel, the Christmas Palace, and the Miami police and fire departments.
On the first day of the phony Christmas extravaganza, Ellisor wrote himself a check from the ticket money, writing "presents" in the memo line. He then bought a Jaguar 393 and spent the rest on expensive clothing, a luxury car rental and a suite at the Doubletree Hotel, among other things.
"At about the same time, the students, teachers and chaperones who had purchased tickets for the Christmas show were on their way by bus to the convention center," the ruling states. "They found it locked and empty."
Ellisor received an 87-month jail sentence for eight counts of mail fraud. The appeals court affirmed his sentence and restitution order, saying a reasonable juror could easily conclude that Ellisor meant to defraud parents and businesses with his Grinch-like scheme.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.