A U.S. citizen appeared last week in federal
court in Boston after being extradited from Brazil in connection with a $2
million wire fraud scheme.
Christopher Morris, 48, formerly of Lowell
and Chelsea, was extradited from Brazil and arrived in Boston last week. Morris
was detained following an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge M.
Page Kelley. In November 2014, Morris was indicted on four counts of wire fraud
and 12 counts of unlawful monetary transactions. Since 2013, Morris had been
living in Uruguay and Brazil.
The indictment alleges that Morris, an accounting
professional, participated in a wire fraud scheme targeting his employer, PBS
Distribution (PBSd), a media distribution business with operations in Allston
and elsewhere. Morris’ position gave him access to U.S. mail addressed to
PBSd’s accounting department, including checks payable to PBSd. According to
the indictment, beginning as early as January 2008 and continuing through
September 2012, Morris took more than $2 million in checks under the guise of
depositing them into PBSd’s bank accounts, but he instead endorsed them to
himself and deposited them into a personal bank account. Morris allegedly used
steps, fraudulently causing credits to be issued to the accounts of customers
whose checks he stole, and by causing PBSd’s general ledger to be altered to
show that the same customers had made payments. It is further alleged that
Morris spent the proceeds of the scheme on a lavish lifestyle that included
year-long apartment rentals in New York City’s Greenwich Village and Tribeca
neighborhoods; the down payment, purchase and upkeep of a waterfront
condominium in Chelsea; and luxury clothing, dining and travel, including a
$16,000 two-week South American cruise.
The charge of wire
fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three
years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 on each count. The
government expects to move to dismiss the charges of unlawful monetary
transactions under the Rule of Specialty, a doctrine of international law that
permits prosecution upon extradition only as to charges authorized by the
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