A 58-year-old Santa Monica man, who defrauded Black-ish actress Jenifer Lewis and three other women he was dating by convincing them to invest in sham companies he claimed he owned, was on Tuesday sentenced to eight years in prison.
According to the Associated Press, Antonio Wilson, who went by the aliases “Dr. Tony Mariot” and “Brice Carrington”, has also been ordered to pay $272,000 in restitution. Wilson pleaded guilty to wire fraud in June last year.
During his sentencing, United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson labeled Wilson’s actions as “vicious, not only in terms of money loss to victims but the manner in which he abused the victims and the way he pursued the fraud,” a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office said.
“Predator is not usually a term referred to in the fraud context, but it is an apt description here,” the judge added.
Prosecutors said Wilson won the trust of his victims – including Lewis – by presenting himself as a prominent professional before establishing romantic relationships with them. In separate instances, Wilson posed as a Navy SEAL, a graduate of Oxford University, and an Oxford professor who lectured on biblical antiquities at UCLA.
Wilson then went ahead to make them believe he owned a sound design and software business and managed to convince them to invest in them. He also lied to the victims that both companies were valued in millions and had rendered services to renowned organizations. After swindling the women, Wilson used their monies to fund his personal lifestyle and other expenses, the statement said.
“It is the emotional impact that this crime had on his victims that makes it particularly egregious,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “[Wilson] not only conned people out of their money, but he also did so by betraying their trust after forging intimate relationships with them. The impact of such a fraud is more than financial; it is personal.”
Wilson met Lewis at a gym in Los Angeles when he was employed as the facility’s manager. After the two established a relationship and became romantically involved, Wilson allegedly swindled the 64-year-old actress out of $50,000, according to the Associated Press. Lewis sued the gym in the aftermath of the incident and successfully reached a $13,000 settlement.
Following Wilson’s arrest and subsequent guilty plea last year, Lewis shared an Instagram post expressing relief. “WE FINALLY CAUGHT HIS ASS!!!,” she captioned. “It took 5 years, but we finally did it. We caught the man who conned me out of $50,000. Sometimes justice DOES prevail.”