Clarion woman sentenced in 'business opportunity' scam
A Clarion woman arrested in a national “business opportunity” fraud sweep will spend one year and one day in prison, a Pittsburgh federal judge ruled on Friday.
Pearl Pastilock, 50, pleaded guilty in June to conspiring with L.J. Gubitosa Inc., a Colorado firm that bilked would-be business owners out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Pastilock posed as a successful owner of an energy candy vending machine franchise to persuade others to invest in the unprofitable franchises, prosecutors say.
“I'm sorry,” Pastilock told U.S. District Judge David Cercone. “And I'll never let this happen again, ever.”
Cercone also sentenced Pastilock to three years of probation and ordered her to pay a share of the $215,000 restitution tied to her conduct.
The company did business as American Vending Systems and promised investors they could make a living off of the profits of vending machines selling energy candy, prosecutors say.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Marketa Sims said Pastilock, who owned and operated an ice cream truck, responded to an ad in a magazine and got roped in as the person calling prospects to encourage them to invest their money.
She argued that Pastilock deserved probation because she immediately cooperated with U.S. Postal Service inspectors who knocked on her door in 2009 and helped them develop the evidence to convict the principal players in Colorado and Texas.
“She made numerous recorded phone calls,” she said.
Pastilock made about $25,000 from the scam during three years, Sims said.
Patrick Runkle, a trial lawyer for the Justice Department's Consumer Protection Branch, agreed that Pastilock cooperated, but said she used aliases and lied to persuade 200 to 250 people to invest thousands of dollars in the scam, in some cases their life savings.
“That $25,000 represents a lot of harm to the public,” he said.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shopping season starts up for Penguins amid onset of free agency
- Pirates grind out extra-inning win against testy Tigers
- Penguins notebook: Sheary hoping to return to organization
- 1 killed, several hurt as police chase ends in Oakland crash
- Union to work while ATI talks continue
- Bush Center displays rare Honus Wagner baseball card
- Pittsburgh police solve fewer homicides
- Plum officials reassess equipment policy after sexual assault case
- Three teens injured in one-vehicle crash in Hempfield
- Indonesia plane crash death toll 141 as search effort ends
- In historic vote, Legislature approves bill selling state liquor stores