NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Peruvian man was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday after he pleaded guilty to U.S. charges of defrauding investors out of more than $1.2 million, using a video pitch that featured the Trump Building in downtown Manhattan, where he had an office.
Pedro Jaramillo, 49, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan, according to U.S. prosecutors. His lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jaramillo, a Peruvian national living in the New York City borough of Queens, was arrested last December. He pleaded guilty in April to commodities fraud and wire fraud.
Prosecutors said Jarmaillo ran a “Ponzi-like” scheme in which he solicited money from more than two dozen investors, promising them steady returns from commodity futures contracts. In fact, prosecutors said, Jaramillo spent investors’ money on himself, and used it to repay earlier investors.
“Many victims – including retirees, working professionals, and manual laborers – lost their life savings, and Jaramillo now faces the substantial term in prison his crime merits,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.
Jaramillo advertised his services in a YouTube video that featured Wall Street, the stock exchange and himself standing before the Trump Building, a 72-story building at 40 Wall Street owned by President Donald Trump, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Jaramillo maintained an office in the building where he met potential investors, the prosecutors said. No one involved with the building has been accused of wrongdoing.
“Why do you think large companies and financial institutions invest in Wall Street?” Jaramillo asked in Spanish in the video, which was set to Frank Sinatra’s song “New York, New York,” according to prosecutors. “It is the heart of capitalism at a worldwide level. And I want to introduce you to it.”
By the time of his arrest, Jaramillo had stopped returning calls from investors, who learned he planned to move back to Peru, the criminal complaint said.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler