BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — A former Rochester man pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges involving personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christopher Parris, 41, admitted to defrauding the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and at least eight other companies between February and April 10, 2020. Prosecutors say Parris offered to sell “vast quantities” of N95 respirator masks and other PPE to the companies while those items were scarce at the height of the pandemic. Parris did not have access to those masks.
Parris offered to sell the VA 125 million masks in March of 2021, attempting to secure a upfront payment totaling more than $3 million. Over the course of the scam, he was able to collect $7.4 million in upfront payments from at least eight companies and organizations, even though prosecutors say he knew at the time he was not able to deliver the masks.
Parris also pleaded guilty in connection with a Ponzi scheme run out of Rochester in and around 2007. Prosecutors say a Webster resident lost more than $94,000 to the scheme, and a Victor resident lost more than $214,000.
Parris is scheduled to be sentenced on December 8. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the Ponzi scheme, 30 years in prison for wire fraud in connection to a presidentially declared emergency, and 10 years in prison for other offenses.