A New York coin dealer who cheated an elderly man from small-town Minnesota and others out of life savings totaling more than a quarter-million dollars is heading to prison for more than two years.
Chrysanthos Nicholas, 55, was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 27 months in prison and ordered to make restitution of nearly $250,000. Nicholas pleaded guilty last year to mail fraud.
More than half of the amount Nicholas’ scheme netted him came from a man in the central Minnesota town of Merrifield.
In 2010, Nicholas directed the Minnesota client to mail his coins to him in Southold, N.Y., on Long Island. Nicholas received the coins, valued at $135,450.40, but he didn’t pay for them or return them.
The Minnesota man tried to contact Nicholas about his life savings, but his repeated efforts were in vain.
“Nicholas gained the trust of his client victims, many of whom were elderly and handed over to the defendant their life savings,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Minneapolis said in a statement announcing the sentencing.
In all, Nicholas stole $267,473.40 in coins and precious metals through his businesses TCW Trading and North Fork Six Fare Coin Consultants.
Nicholas “took large amounts of money and valuable coins from oftentimes elderly victims while promising great returns,” the prosecution wrote in a presentencing argument seeking a sentence of 27 to 33 months.
The defense had sought a sentence of no more than six months in a halfway house and another six months on home monitoring, seeking sympathy from the court because Nicholas “was going through a difficult time with his marriage and his family life” surrounding child custody.
“Mr. Nicholas’ personal life fell apart, and he made poor business decisions in the process,” the defense court document read.