James F. "Jim" Ellis, the Ponzi pitchman who duped his Wilton Manors friends of $10 million, was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in federal prison.
Ellis, 70, worked for fraudster and former day trader George Elia and used Elia's wealth as a means to convince friends to invest money, even some of their life savings, for the better part of six years.
Ellis took in $3 million in total and bought himself cars, multiple homes, and cruises.
As he took in more money by lying, Ellis used his wealth as a hard sell to have more friends invest, with promises of having their lives become as lavish as his.
When the money ran out, however, the jig was up.
Back in February, Ellis cut a deal with the feds. He would plead guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and testify against Elia.
Elia eventually pleaded guilty to ten fraud-related charges.
Testimony from the victims painted a picture of a man who destroyed lives and betrayed friendships.
Investors told the judge Tuesday that what they have experienced goes beyond just losing money. They were betrayed by Ellis, who they thought was their friend.
"He's the one who went after us," said Joseph Cortese, who lost all of his retirement savings.
Elia is due to be sentenced on June 12; nine of the ten charges carry up to 20 years in prison.
Ellis will begin serving his 38-month prison sentence on July 1.
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