Cranston man found guilty of perpetrating $50,000
fraudulent investment scheme against neighbor
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Cranston man was found guilty in Kent County Superior Court of perpetrating a $50,000 fraudulent investment scheme against his neighbor between 2015 and 2018.
On December 1, 2021, following the conclusion of a three-day trial before Superior Court Justice Luis A. Matos, a jury found John Conley (age 73) guilty of one count of unlawful appropriation over $1,000 and one count of obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500.
The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, 2022, in Kent County Superior Court.
“The defendant here, a recidivist fraudster, plainly thought he could sneak a fastball by a jury of his peers and avoid accountability for his latest illegal scheme. The jury saw his conduct for what it was, and appropriately so,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The defendant lied to his neighbor, persuaded him to part with his money, and then lined his own pockets. Perhaps the state criminal sentence he now faces will finally persuade him to earn his own money rather than steal it from those around him. I am grateful to the Rhode Island State Police for their usual excellent investigative work and partnership in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”
During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that between 2015 and 2018, the defendant convinced a neighbor to invest $50,000 into a fraudulent investment scheme in which the defendant spent thousands of dollars on personal expenses.
In 2018, the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) Financial Crimes Unit initiated an investigation into allegations of a fraudulent investment scheme perpetrated by the defendant following a complaint by the defendant’s neighbor.
During the investigation, the RISP determined that in 2015, the defendant used fraudulent financial statements to convince his neighbor to invest $50,000 into a company that he owned, Legends Acquisitions, LLC. In investment documents presented as evidence at trial, the defendant provided his neighbor with the opportunity to either receive his $50,000 investment back after three years plus $18,000 in interest, or an option to convert his $50,000 investment into $100,000 worth of shares in Legends Acquisitions, LLC.
During that time, the defendant only paid his neighbor $6,000 and ultimately never returned his $50,000 investment.
At trial, the State provided evidence that the defendant used thousands of dollars from the investment for personal expenses, including purchases at Brooks Brothers, Macy’s, haircuts, dry cleaning, and ATM withdrawals.
On April 3, 2019, the RISP arrested the defendant. He was charged by way of criminal information one month later in Kent County Superior Court.
The defendant was previously convicted of eight counts of federal wire fraud in 2006 and sentenced to 21 months to serve in prison.
“I want to thank the Attorney General’s office for their partnership and applaud the meticulous work of our financial crimes unit,” said Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. “It is truly unfortunate when a trusted neighbor scams a friend, and I am glad that this perpetrator was found guilty and justice will be served.”
Special Assistant Attorney General John Malloy of the Office of the Attorney General and Detective Courtney Elliott of the RISP Financial Crimes Unit led the investigation and prosecution of the case.