The man who once operated Martin T. Sigillito and Associates in and also served as a priest in that city has been convicted of orchestrating a $52 million Ponzi scheme, officials said Friday.
Sigillito, a 63-year-old Webster Groves resident, has been taken into federal custody, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri states. He faces up to 325 years in prison without the possibility of parole and will be sentenced after an investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
A jury found him guilty of all 20 charges he faced—one count of conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering and four counts of mail fraud. It deliberated for six hours at U.S. District Court in St. Louis. The trial began March 19.
“This massive Ponzi scheme collapsed under its own weight, as such schemes inevitably do, but not before conspirators stole tens of millions of dollars from their unwitting victims in one of the largest fraud schemes in Missouri history,” stated David Ketchmark, acting U.S. attorney for the western district of Missouri.
“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict today. Although conspirators squandered most of the ill-gotten gain on their own extravagant lifestyle, we are committed to providing as much restitution as possible to the victim investors.”
Between 2000 and 2010, Sigillito is suspected of having used nearly $6 million from U.S. investors to "support an affluent lifestyle." Investors .
He operated Martin T. Sigillito and Associates in Clayton but had no law partners and few if any clients, an earlier release stated. An indictment claimed Sigillito portrayed himself as an expert in finance and international law and a lecturer at England's Oxford University.
Sigillito also is an ordained priest and bishop in the church of the American Anglican Convocation. He had held services at Ambruster-Donnelly Mortuary in Clayton, the Riverfront Times reported in 2010.
The court will decide at a later date whether Sigillito has to turn $52.5 million over to the federal government, along with property such as hundreds of antique books, coins and artifacts; six Persian rugs; dozens of bottles of alcohol; and his property in Marthasville.
Co-defendants James Scott Brown of Leawood, KS and Derek J. Smith of Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom pleaded guilty Sept. 16 to their roles in the Ponzi scheme. Both turned over real estate holdings as a result.