Two local men were sentenced Wednesday on fraud charges related to a nationwide telemarketing scheme that prosecutors say reaped $50 million from companies and nonprofits for unwanted and over-priced light bulbs and cleaning supplies.
Eric Epstein, 58, previously of Owings Mills and most recently living in Florida, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to just over 11 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.
Andrew Stafford, 58, of Bel Air, received a six-year sentence for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland said in a press release that Epstein and Stafford were leaders in a scheme that sent fraudulent invoices to companies for more than $100 million, and received more than $50 million in payments.
Citing plea agreements from both men and other court documents, officials said that in 2003 Epstein co-founded Midway Industries LLC in Maryland, and that he, Stafford, and co-conspirators charged businesses exorbitant prices for light bulbs and supplies and deceived them into paying for products they never ordered.
Officials said victims included global companies as well as small family-run businesses and nonprofits.
Several other co-conspirators from Maryland and Pennsylvania already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with their roles, and were sentenced to between 30 months and 72 months in prison, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.