A West Haven man was arrested today and charged with defrauding thousands of dollars from elderly and other vulnerable victims who paid the money hoping to collect non-existent lottery or sweepstakes winnings.
WILLIAM SNIPES, age 56, of 462 Washington Avenue, Apt. 1, West Haven, was charged with Racketeering in violation of the Corrupt Organization and Racketeering Act (CORA), Larceny in the First Degree, Conspiracy to commit Larceny in the First Degree, and Larceny in the Second Degree as a result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the investigation was initiated based on information from an internal fraud investigator from Citizens Financial Group.
According to the warrant, victims would receive a letter or telephone call telling them they had won a sweepstakes or lottery and that in order to collect their winnings they had to send money as prepayment for fees and/or taxes. There was no sweepstakes or lottery and the fees were kept by Mr. Snipes and others involved in the conspiracy, the warrant states.
Mr. Snipes is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from elderly or other vulnerable victims, the warrant states.
Mr. Snipes was arraigned today and released on a promise to appear. His next court date is scheduled for July 16, 2012 at Milford Superior Court, G.A. No. 22.
Racketeering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Larceny in the First Degree and Conspiracy to commit Larceny in the First Degree are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Larceny in the Second Degree is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The charges against Mr. Snipes are merely allegations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and is being prosecuted by the Financial Crimes Bureau in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.