Tully Lovisa of Huntington Station leaves federal court in Central Islip after...

Tully Lovisa of Huntington Station leaves federal court in Central Islip after being sentenced for his role in a $30 million fraudulent mass-mailing scheme. Credit: John Roca

The convicted ringleader of a $30 million fraudulent mass-mailing scheme that targeted the elderly with promises of a jackpot prize was sentenced to time served Monday despite facing up to 20 years in prison for his crimes, which the sentencing judge acknowledged as a “tremendous break.”

U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert’s sentence, which included two years of probation and a $1 million forfeiture order, means defendant Tully Lovisa, 60, of Huntington Station, will serve no jail time for what federal prosecutors said was a scheme that scammed mostly elderly and vulnerable victims around the country into paying fees to claim large cash prizes that did not actually exist. He spent about a day in jail when he was first arrested in 2018, his lawyer said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York declined to comment on the judge’s sentence. Lovisa’s victims could not be reached for comment.

“You realize what a tremendous break this is?” Seybert said to Lovisa, shortly after she handed down the sentence. She added: “Take the gift you have today and give back to the neighborhood.”

     WHAT TO KNOW

  • The convicted ringleader of a $30 million fraudulent mass-mailing scheme that targeted the elderly with promises of a jackpot prize was sentenced to time served Monday. He had spent a day in jail previously and faced up to 20 years in prison.
  • U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert’s sentence included two years of probation and a $1 million forfeiture order.
  • The judge told Tully Lovisa he was getting a "tremendous break" because she was impressed by his personal story and cooperation with prosecutors.

Lovisa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in October 2018. He was arrested in July 2018 and charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, conspiring to commit those offenses and perjury.

Seybert, speaking from the bench in her 10th-floor Central Islip courtroom Monday, said she considered rescheduling the sentencing for five years from now or sentencing Lovisa to one year and a day in federal prison, which would end up being an approximately 8-month prison sentence.

“This is a terrible crime involving something like $30 million … it’s a huge amount of fraud that’s done through the mail … it’s a swindle,” Seybert said.

But Seybert was apparently moved by Lovisa’s personal narrative — he said he was abusing drugs and alcohol during his criminal conduct — and has since been clean and has consistently attending counseling sessions. The judge noted that Lovisa was “brought up in a solid home,” was never arrested before and has been married for 40 years. The judge also cited a letter she received from a student at the U.S. Naval Academy who Lovisa had coached, saying his role as a youth baseball coach has made him a “hero.” The judge also cited his cooperation with federal prosecutors against his co-defendants.

Lovisa’s defense attorney, Sanford Talkin of Manhattan, said his client was “in the throes of drug abuse” and “wasn’t thinking clearly” when he committed the crimes he was convicted of. His cooperation with the government was “extensive,” Talkin said.

“He’s embarrassed; he’s ashamed,” Talkin said in court.

Lovisa, who tearfully addressed the court, proclaimed: “I am a different man. I’m the man I used to be. I’m proud of that. I’m deeply sorry to those who I injured.”

Several members of Lovisa’s family, including his wife and son, attended and cried as Lovisa spoke.

But prosecutors alleged Lovisa had long engaged in deceptive prize-promotion mailings. He was sued in 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission and as a result was enjoined from any involvement with prize-promotion mailings, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Lovisa’s conduct continued even after the lawsuit. Lovisa worked with two others to set up numerous prize-promotion companies using straw owners and aliases to continue defrauding hundreds of thousands of consumers, prosecutors said.

At the time of Lovisa’s indictment, then-U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Richard P. Donoghue said Lovisa and his co-defendants “perpetuated a cruel hoax” on their victims. “In so doing, Lovisa violated prior court orders directing him to stop engaging in mass mailing operations and his co-conspirators were well aware of prior enforcement action to stop this conduct,” Donoghue said.

The perjury charge against Lovisa stems from his submission to the FTC of a false compliance report, in which he claimed only to own a construction company and not be involved in prize-promotion mailings, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly told the judge before sentencing that Lovisa has the “most culpability” of all the defendants charged.

“This was a long-lasting, massive, fraudulent scheme with hundreds of thousands of victims,” Kelly said.

After court, Talkin addressed his client’s sentence: “He deserves a big break because he earned it, because there’s certain extenuating circumstances here about him as a person, and that when the judge was able to evaluate him as a person and what he’s done over the past 5½ years, he has through his actions demonstrated that he’s worthy of a break and I am certain he’s not going to let anybody down.”

He added: “Now he gets to move on with his life.”

Lovisa repeated his regrets to reporters as he walked to his truck after leaving the courthouse with his family.

“I apologize, I’m making amends, and I’m going to do the best I can to make retribution,” Lovisa said.

Asked why he deserved a break, he replied: “I don’t know. That’s not my call. It was the judge’s call.” 

Massapequa motel closed … Riverhead charter school … Boxing bus driver  Credit: Newsday

Beauvais sentencing ... LI home prices ... Lindsay Lohan's new movie ... What's up on LI

Massapequa motel closed … Riverhead charter school … Boxing bus driver  Credit: Newsday

Beauvais sentencing ... LI home prices ... Lindsay Lohan's new movie ... What's up on LI

Latest videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME