Science fiction novelist Mitchell Gross, who pleaded guilty in February to scamming victims for nearly $6 million, has been sentenced to serve more than 12 years in prison. Gross wrote sf as “Mitchell Graham.”
Earlier this year A.C. Crispin told readers of the SFWA blog about the time Gross tried to buy the silence of Writers Beware after they uncovered a scam writing contest he’d created.
But that was small potatoes compared to the activities that have now led to his imprisonment. When a federal grand jury indicted Gross in 2011 for wire fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s press release provided details about one of his schemes that netted almost $3 million:
GROSS met women by corresponding with them on an internet dating service that caters to individuals of the Jewish faith. In June 2006, GROSS began a romantic relationship with “R.J.,” a woman he met through the dating service. GROSS has written and published novels under the name “Mitchell Graham,” and told R.J. that he was independently wealthy and financially secure. GROSS actually has written and published books. But GROSS also told R.J. that his wealth dramatically increased as a result of the successful investment of his funds by “Michael Johnson,” supposedly a licensed stock broker employed by a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch known as “The Merrill Company.” In fact, “Michael Johnson” was an alias used by GROSS himself, and “The Merrill Company” did not exist. R.J. called a phone number provided by GROSS and spoke to “Michael Johnson.” In fact, she was speaking to GROSS, who disguised his voice to conceal the scheme. R.J. ultimately wired approximately $2.99 million to an account she believed belonged to “The Merrill Company,” which was actually controlled by GROSS.
Gross, a disbarred attorney, also pleaded guilty of defrauding a couple of $2 million for representing them in a lawsuit that was never filed.
He will serve 12 years and seven months, then another three years on supervised release, and has been ordered to pay $5.8 million in restitution to his victims, according to a ruling Thursday from U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes in Atlanta.
[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]