BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — A 63-year-old man charged with bilking friends and family out of $3.4 million was sentenced Tuesday to more than eight years in prison and ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution.
Garrett L. “Denny” Denniston of Boothbay Harbor, formerly of Newtown, Conn., was sentenced in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., to 97 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to a release from the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Denniston, who was taken into custody Sept. 19, 2012, at his Maine residence, pleaded guilty in February to one count of wire fraud. According to the plea agreement, he stipulated that from “at least” 2005 to 2012, he operated an investment fraud scheme and solicited money from investors by representing himself as running a successful business, ConsensusOne, that specialized in mergers and acquisitions.
Denniston defrauded at least 54 victims of more than $3.4 million, according to a sentencing memo from prosecutors. Investment amounts ranged from a few thousand dollars to nearly $500,000. He used the funds to pay for “airfare, hotels, restaurants, country club membership fees, mortgage and rent payments” plus other expenses including remodeling costs at his Boothbay Harbor property, according to court documents.
“This lengthy prison term is appropriate for an individual whose long-running scheme defrauded at least 50 victims, including close friends and family, of more than $3 million,” Deirdre M. Daly, acting U.S. attorney for Connecticut, said in the release. “Many investors were financially ruined.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly K. Mertz said she hoped the sentence would deter others working in investments from similar schemes.
Denniston’s attorneys had requested a sentence of four years, arguing “diminished capacity” due to their client’s mental illness — bipolar disorder as well as prescription drug, alcohol and marijuana abuse.
BDN reporters Christopher Cousins and Judy Harrison contributed to this report.