The five were from Brunswick, Copley, Richfield and Independence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The sixth person involved, Kelly Hood, formerly of Richfield, was sentenced to one year of home confinement followed by probation. All six were also ordered to repay the $17 million and all six previously pleaded guilty to the charges.
The U.S. Attorney's office says they defrauded about 70 investors.
According to the U.S. Attorney, they are: Kenneth Grant, of Copley, who was sentenced to 92 months in prison; Thomas Abdallah, of Brunswick, who was sentenced to 82 months in prison; Jerry Cicolani, formerly of Richfield, who was sentenced to 57 months in prison; Jeffrey Grant, of Copley, who was sentenced to 52 months in prison; and Mark George, of Independence, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
"These defendants swindled people out of millions of dollars so they could live extravagant lifestyles,” U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon said. “This was flat-out fraud. The defendants knew fully that they were stealing from the investors.”
Abdallah and Kenneth Grant owned and operated KGTA Petroleum, Ltd. They and others marketed KGTA as a company that earned profits from buying and selling crude oil and refined fuel products. They represented to investors that they had relationships with third-party purchasers and investor funds would be used to purchase fuel products at a discount and then resold at substantial profit, according to court documents.
KGTA issued investment agreements and promissory notes which offered guaranteed monthly payments up to five percent per month or annual payments of approximately 60 percent per year, according to the information.
The defendants never filed documentation about KGTA with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to court documents.
Together, they obtained approximately $31 million from about 70 investors between 2010 and 2014 through false and fraudulent pretenses. They knew KGTA did not have agreements in place to sell oil and fuel. Instead, the defendants used investor money for personal expenditures and luxury items including a Mercedes Benz, a boat and mortgage payments on high-end residential property, according to court documents.