By Andrew M. Harris – Sep 15, 2010 6:23 PM CT
Frank Castaldi, who ran a Chicago- area Ponzi scheme for 22 years that cost victims $31.6 million, was sentenced to 23 years in prison today in federal court.
For 22 years, Castaldi, 57, of suburban Prospect Heights preyed upon elderly Italian immigrants, U.S. District Judge John Darrah said today before handing down the sentence.
“This is an offense of huge magnitude,” the judge said after hearing from victims of the scheme in a packed courtroom. “It involved hundreds of victims. It involved millions of dollars.”
In an August 2009 plea agreement, Castaldi said he had raised more than $77 million from 473 groups and individuals. First charged in January of last year, he admitted to mail fraud and to trying to thwart a U.S. Internal Revenue Service probe.
The sentence imposed by Darrah was in excess of the federal sentencing guidelines-recommended range and the 12 1/2 year term suggested by prosecutors in a Sept. 8 court filing.