A show promoter labeled a "Grinch" by prosecutors for selling tickets to children for a nonexistent Christmas pageant was sentenced Wednesday to more than seven years in prison.
The judge told David Lee Ellisor his actions were "reprehensible."
Ellisor, 52, was convicted in February of eight counts of mail fraud for a December 2003 scam in which he sold $10 tickets to more than 2,700 Miami-Dade County schoolchildren and parents for a "Christmas Around The World" show. He claimed it would be attended by ambassadors from 28 countries and even feature live reindeer.
Hundreds of children were left crying outside the Coconut Grove Convention Center when they learned there would be no show.
Trial evidence indicated that Ellisor emptied the show's bank account to buy a Jaguar luxury car on the day the show was to begin.
"Mr. Ellisor, what you did was reprehensible, to take money from young, vulnerable and impressionable children," U.S. District Judge Richard Goldberg said. "I am convinced that given the chance, you would do it all over again."
Ellisor insisted he was wrongly convicted and that the show turned out bad for reasons beyond his control.
He was sentenced to 87 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $38,000 in restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Shipley said the severe sentence was partly a reflection of evidence that Ellisor had pulled similar scams in Utah, California, Missouri, Colorado and Arizona.