(Phoenix, Ariz. – Nov. 23, 2005) Tucson resident Maryanne Chisholm, 40, was sentenced to 31.75 years in prison following her conviction on 58 criminal charges. The charges included 54 counts of selling unregulated securities, one count of illegally conducting an enterprise and three counts of fraud. Chisholm was also ordered to pay more than $21 million in restitution.
Between Feb. 1997 and June 2000, Chisholm sold stock in a company called Safari Media, Inc., in which she served as president and CEO. The company claimed to be a multi-media business developing products for the Internet and the music industry. Chisholm led initial investors to believe the stock would go public and then she claimed various companies were going to buy the business. The key claim was that a major Japanese company was going to buy all shares of Safari Media at a very high price.
In fact, court documents illustrated that information provided to potential investors was false including forged documents representing a major accounting firm and the major Japanese company. Chisholm used the funds for personal gain, spending money on furniture, clothing, travel and entertainment.
The case took more than four years to bring to trial, involved more than 1,200 victims, and took about six weeks to complete. A Pima County Superior Court jury found Chisholm guilty last month, and Judge Christopher Browning announced the sentence this afternoon. Assistant Attorney General John Evans prosecuted this case.