SANTA ANA (CNS) – More than a half-dozen people were convicted today in federal court in Santa Ana for their roles in a decades-long fraud scheme involving office supplies that bilked more than 50,000 victims out of tens of millions of dollars.
The scheme to illegally switch printer and toner customers to a Culver City-based business, IDC SERVCO, dates back to 1988, according to the U.S.
Attorney’s Office. Over a six-year span, customers were tricked into sending more than $126 million to telemarketers involved in the scam, federal prosecutors said.
Following a seven-week trial, jurors found the following defendants guilty:
— Gilbert N. Michaels, 77, of West Los Angeles, the owner of IDC SERVCO;
— James R. Milheiser, 53, of Huntington Beach;
— Leah D. Johnson, 54, of Ignacio, Colorado;
— Jonathan M. Brightman, 52, of Westlake Village;
— Sharon Scandaliato Virag, 54, of West Hills;
— Tammi L. Williams, 44, of Chino Hills; and
— Francis S. Scimeca, 54, of Woodland Hills.
All of the defendants were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Michaels was additionally found guilty of 10 counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering, while Milheiser, Johnson, Brightman, and Scimeca were also found guilty of mail fraud.
In the scheme, telemarketers would call businesses and claim to be their regular printer and toner suppliers offering a price cut, but, in reality, they would be sent forms to switch their business to IDC SERVCO and pay two to 10 times more, prosecutors said.
Fourteen other defendants pleaded guilty previously.
Sentencing is set for May 29.