Ottawa

Florida man gets 12 years for role in defrauding City of Ottawa

A man who defrauded the City of Ottawa in an online scam has been sentenced to 151 months in prison by a Florida court. 

Elvin Lewis Jr. was convicted of defrauding city, other businesses in U.S. court

Elvin Lewis Jr. will learn next week, if and potentially how much he'll have to pay in restitution. (Submitted)

A man who defrauded the City of Ottawa in an online scam has been sentenced to 151 months in prison by a Florida court. 

Elvin Lewis Jr. was convicted of money laundering in 2019 after a jury found him guilty of laundering more than $3 million in fraud proceeds by using what the U.S. government described as "cyber scams."

On Tuesday, the 55-year-old was sentenced to a little more than 12 years in prison.

Lewis was convicted in relation to a July 2018 scam that included targeting the City of Ottawa's treasurer. Acting on an email from someone posing as the city manager, the treasurer wired $97,797.20 US — about $130,000 Cdn — to a U.S. bank account. 

Then-city solicitor Rick O'Connor identified Lewis as the culprit in April after the incident was made public in a city auditor's report.

Evidence from trial showed that between November 2017 and August 2018 Lewis and others sought to enrich themselves by creating a money laundering network that involved moving fraudulently obtained money between banks and individuals.

During his trial, prosecutors showed how Lewis contacted businesses using email, social media or other online methods, falsely posing as a vendor seeking payment for services. He created more than eight accounts at different banks for purported real estate investments and laundered more than $3 million in less than a year. 

Trucking and power companies among other victims

According to court records, Lewis made more than $160,000 in cash through the cyber scam, claiming the City of Ottawa, a Tennessee trucking company, an Ohio power company, an Indiana axle company and a Chicago importing business as victims. 

In 2019, Lewis denied allegations he defrauded the City of Ottawa out of nearly $100,000 US in an interview with the CBC, calling the allegations against him "ridiculous." 

"I wasn't involved in ripping off the City of Ottawa. That's, like, ridiculous," Lewis said while on bail awaiting trial for the money laundering charges.

"I'm a victim in this, and they call what I did a 'money mule.'"

Next week he is scheduled to learn if — and potentially how much — he will have to pay in restitution while imprisoned.

now