ST. LOUIS • A former Clayton lawyer and American Anglican bishop will serve 40 years in federal prison for a massive Ponzi scheme that federal prosecutors say was the largest in the Eastern Missouri district's history.
Martin Sigillito, 63, preyed on family, fellow church-goers and friends with investment opportunities in the so-called "British Lending Program," a Ponzi scheme disguised as real estate investments in the United Kingdom. U.S. District Judge Linda Reade of Iowa delivered the 40 year sentence on Friday and ordered him to pay $34 million in restitution.
"Sigillito’s criminal conduct was calloused and calculating, causing fear and anguish to the people who trusted him," Reade wrote in a sentencing memo. "Sigillito has not taken responsibility for the economic and emotional damage that he has caused to his victims. The majority of the victims of this scheme are of an age and station in life where they will never be able to earn their way back to where they were before they got mixed up with the BLP."
Between 2000 and 2010 Sigillito defrauded 111 investors out $56 million, according to court documents. The fraud collapsed in 2010 when his secretary went to authorities. He was convicted in April on 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
Federal authorities said Sigillito pooled lenders' funds in his attorney trust account in the United States instead of sending the funds to England for use in real estate projects as promised.
Prosecutors say Sigillito took home more than $6 million in fees, which fueled a spending spree on antique books, papers, rare coins and other items, including a $1,200 bottle of cognac and a lamp dating to 34 B.C. He was also a member of the elite Racquet Club of St. Louis.
Sigillito didn't speak during Friday's sentencing hearing. He was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs. Reade, of Iowa, presided over the case because the Eastern District of Missouri’s bench recused itself. Sigillito’s wife is a law clerk for a federal judge here.
A civil lawsuit—filed by investors against Sigillito, Enterprise Bank and Trust, and others— is set for August 26. Reade handled procedural matters in that suit on Friday.
Two partners — James Scott Brown, 66, of Leawood, Kan., and Derek J. Smith, 67, of the United Kingdom — both testified against Sigillito as part of plea deals.