Sentencing Delayed for Santa Monica Man Who Orchestrated Online Romance Scam
"Dr. Tony Mariot" conned four women, including "Black-ish" actress Jenifer Lewis, into investing in his sham companies
February 8, 2021
A federal judge has delayed until February 22 the sentencing for a Santa Monica man who admitted to orchestrating an online romance scam that conned four women, including "Black-ish" actress Jenifer Lewis, into investing in his sham companies.
Antonio Mariot Wilson, also known as "Dr. Tony Mariot" and "Brice Carrington," 57, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud last June, according to a plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Between May 2015 and October 2018, Wilson engaged in romantic relationships with the women before conning them into giving him a total of $387,000 for his purported businesses, according to court documents. Wilson used the victims' money to fund his own lifestyle, including paying off his credit card debt, rent and buying luxury items, prosecutors said.
Wilson met some of the women through Bumble and other dating apps. He met Lewis at a gym, where he was working as a manager. He has reportedly repaid one of the victims her $75,000 "investment," leaving $272,000 in restitution to the other three women. Prior to entering his guilty plea last year, Wilson faced a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for federal wire fraud.
But prosecutors in this case are now asking the judge to sentence Wilson to 33 months in prison and require him to pay $272,000 in restitution, according to court papers. The defense has recommended 12 months of home detention and the same sum in restitution.
In court papers, prosecutors said that Wilson is a "predator" who betrayed the trust of his romantic partners "and hurts them both financially and personally."
Wilson claimed to be a Navy SEAL, an Oxford University graduate and a UCLA professor. He relied on these false claims to get the four women to invest in his two sham companies: Ultimate FX, which he said was a sound design company, and 2nd Life, which he claimed was a software business for providing animated instructions to apply for government benefits.
He also claimed that ABC television network and EA Sports video game developer used Ultimate FX for their shows and games, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Wilson previously served four years in prison after pleading guilty in 2009 to wire fraud and tax evasion charges in California for carrying out a similar scheme.