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Missouri’s most expensive fraud: Martin Sigillito

ST. LOUIS – Martin T. Sigillito was an Anglican bishop and a lawyer. He was also imprisoned for 40 years for his Ponzi scheme. Sigillito and J. Scott Brown, a Kansas attorney, stole $52 million from their clients.

Sigillito worked as an attorney in St. Louis in the late 1990s. He and Brown founded the British Lending Program, or BLP.

The BLP was formed as an investment program to prepare loans for an English law practice known as Mark Gilbert Morse, or MGM. MGM specialized on “black lung” lawsuits filed on behalf of English coal miners.

The BLP began offering loans for investments in real estate developments in England in approximately 2000 or 2001.

Prior to the year 2000, Sigillito was not wealthy, and filed for bankruptcy after a divorce. His legal clients were few and far between. Instead, the BLP was his primary emphasis from 2000 until 2010.

In order to gain money, Sigillito’s BLP would “loan” money to a real estate developer in the United Kingdom for short periods of time, mostly one year, at high rates of return, usually between 10 and 48 percent.

According to Sigillito, this estate developer had a knack for spotting undervalued properties he could flip for profit, had options on land that would become valuable when re-zoned, and had inside connections with British authorities. It sounded like a win-win for investors.

In order to get investors, Sigillito exploited his personal ties to people and particular…

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