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Former Downers Grove resident ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution for Ponzi scheme

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:17 p.m. CST

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DOWNERS GROVE – A federal judge ordered a former Downers Grove man to pay more than $3.7 million in restitution for a Ponzi-like investment scheme he was convicted of operating with two other men.

The former Downers Grove resident Christopher Andersen, 57, met the two other defendants sentenced by the judge while in prison for unrelated crimes. After they were released, they joined together in a Ponzi-type investment fraud scheme that caused about 100 victims to lose more than $3.6 million, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Two of the defendants purported to run a business, Sundown Entertainment Inc., that bought and sold films and comic-book rights and together raised more than $7 million from approximately 150 investors, while the third defendant entered the scheme later and lulled victims with false assurances about their investments, according to a Department of Justice press release.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall last week sentenced Daniel Parrilli, 62, formerly of Carol Stream, to 70 months in prison, and finalized the sentencing of John Lauer, 48, formerly of Chicago, who received a 31-month prison term. The lead defendant, Andersen, was sentenced last fall to 95 months in prison. All three had pleaded guilty to fraud charges that were brought against them in 2010. Parrilli was ordered to pay more than $3.65 million in restitution and to begin serving his sentence on Aug. 1.

Lauer was ordered to pay $457,367 in restitution and to surrender on June 12.Andersen is serving his sentence and was ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $3.7 million.

Andersen had committed essentially the same crime previously when he was convicted in 2001 of offering and selling fraudulent investments in the form of promissory notes, according to the press release.

He continued to engage in additional fraud schemes while the charges were pending in both cases and even after he pleaded guilty in the Sundown case. Parrilli had been imprisoned previously for bank fraud and fraudulently using aliases to obtain credit cards. When they teamed-up in the Sundown Entertainment fraud scheme, they promised investors returns starting at 10 percent to as much as 150 percent over a period of months to as short as a few days.

Lauer joined Andersen and Parrilli after they had already fraudulently obtained most of the funds they raised from victims, and he provided lulling assurances to nervous victims that their investments were safe. Lauer also admitted engaging in a separate investment fraud scheme involving the purported purchase of a surety bond to obtain the release of bank funds from the Cayman Islands, according to the press release.

Lauer at one time was the director of risk management and benefits for the Chicago Housing Authority when he engaged in a fraud scheme involving the fraudulent offer and sale of investments in so-called prime bank instruments that resulted in losses of more than $20 million, including about $15 million in CHA pension funds.

Lauer admitted engaging in multiple, separate fraud schemes and met Andersen and Parrilli while all three were serving their sentences at the Oxford prison. Lauer was on supervised release when he assisted them in the later stages of the Sundown Ponzi scheme.

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