TelexFree President Sentenced

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James Merrill, former president of TelexFree, was sentenced on March 22 to six years in prison and three years of probation. Merrill pleaded guilty last October to one count of wire fraud conspiracy and eight counts of wire fraud.

Merrill founded TelexFree with business partner Carlos Wanzeler, who is a fugitive living in Brazil.

Merrill's lawyer submitted dozens of written statements from friends and relatives of Merrill, describing a generous, naive man who could not have masterminded a complicated pyramid scheme. Prosecutors said that although Wanzeler was the "prime mover" in the enterprise, Merrill chose not to tell authorities that the company was engaged in fraud and continued to profit from it.

"Despite knowing that Telexfree was a pyramid scheme, Mr. Merrill profited for years at the expense of the hard-working individuals who invested in the fraudulent company," acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said in a statement.