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May 20, 10

NEWS / Owner of Factory Direct Spas Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud

HOUSTONóTodd Lanni, the owner of Factory Direct Spas, has been sentenced to prison for defrauding eBay customers who paid for hot tubs which were never built and never delivered, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Indicted in February 2008, Lanni pleaded guilty to wire fraud just before his jury trial was scheduled to commence in December 2009. This morning, United States District Judge Keith Ellison sentenced Lanni, 48, of Houston, to 30 months in federal prison without parole for the wire fraud conviction to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $191,734.49 to a total of 46 defrauded customers who ordered, but never received, a hot tub. The court has permitted Lanni to remain on bond pending the issuance of a court order to surrender himself to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Lanni was the owner of a company called Factory Direct Spas, who advertised and used eBay to sell custom hot tubs to the highest bidder. Lanni sold hot tubs in the United States, Canada, and in Europe. He demanded payment, in full, from customers who wired payment before the hot tub was to be constructed. Once he received a customerís money, Lanni then used the money to pay for a luxurious lifestyle which included trips to Las Vegas, Hawaii, Florida, and Canada as well as to pay for meals at expensive restaurants in and around the Houston area.

The 24-month investigation leading to the charges against Lanni was conducted by the FBIís Houston Area Cyber Crime Task Force and the United States Postal Inspection Service and initiated in January 2006 upon receipt of complaints from customers who had paid for hot tubs and never received them.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vernon Lewis.




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