A man who called a telemarketing scam “entertainment for the homebound” and maintained that his elderly victims “enjoyed” sending him money was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in prison.
Jerry Ste. Marie, 40, of Long Beach, a salesman for Nortay Consultants in Brea, said nothing in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana before Judge Gary L. Taylor sent him to prison for 46 months and ordered him to pay $150 in restitution.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Ellyn Lindsay said Ste. Marie was given a lengthy sentence mainly because he had been convicted twice previously of telemarketing fraud.
Ste. Marie is one of seven Nortay operators and salesmen arrested last fall in raids on telemarketing companies that targeted the elderly.
He had tried to plead guilty to one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud in February, but Taylor wouldn’t accept the plea after hearing Ste. Marie talk about his activities.
Ste. Marie said that what he did was “kind of like entertainment for the homebound,” that his victims “enjoyed it” and that telemarketing became illegal only after relatives of victims who died learned that the money was gone.
Taylor sent him back into custody for a month to think about what he did wrong. In March, Ste. Marie again pleaded guilty, and the judge accepted it.
Lindsay called Nortay one of the most “egregious” boiler room operations because it targeted victims of previous frauds and because secretly tape-recorded sales pitches and inside information revealed an unusually callous and heartless operation.
Salesmen promised to investigate previous frauds against victims and recover money, but instead took $491,000 in fees over a two-year period that ended in April 1995. The company returned only $11,000.
After hanging up, operators and salesmen would call the victims “idiots,” “stupid” and “fools.” An 87-year-old Utah man was ridiculed as “Elmer Fudd” after he turned over $8,175 to find money he lost in other scams.
On Monday, one of the operators, Lori Blitz, 43, of Santa Ana, was sentenced to 49 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $237,000. Five others are awaiting sentencing.