Man gets prison for scamming millions from elderly investors

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SAN DIEGO — One of two men who scammed 17 people into investing millions of dollars into a medical syringe prototype was sentenced Friday to 35 years and eight months in state prison.

Matthew Mazur, 53, was convicted last month of 36 counts, including grand theft, securities fraud and theft from an elder.

Co-defendant Carlos Manjarrez, 59, was convicted of 31 similar charges and will be sentenced next year.

Prosecutors said the defendants conspired to dupe investors into fronting more than $3.3 million for a device they called the “SafeSnap.”

“Bilking investors, some of whom are senior citizens, out of millions of dollars of their hard-earned savings is reprehensible,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “Our Economic Crimes Division did an outstanding job bringing this complex case to justice over two years and providing the victims with closure.”

The case was part of a joint investigation with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Oceanside Police Department and the California Franchise Tax Board.

“The FBI remains steadfast in investigating these types of cases to expose fraudsters who use deceit to take advantage of Americans who believe they are investing in a legitimate endeavor,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum.

Authorities said Mazur and Manjarrez made material misrepresentations and omissions regarding their U.S. Medical Instruments Inc., claiming the company was successfully selling “SafeSnap” syringes in the United States and overseas.

“SafeSnap” syringes are described as disposable syringes in which the needle retracts into the syringe’s barrel after use, thus creating its own container.

During the course of their scam, the defendants showed potential investors a prototype of the syringe but never manufactured it in a significant quantity as they purported.

In addition, Mazur and Manjarrez provided false valuations of the company they were promoting to mislead investors, prosecutors said. The majority of the investments they collected were used for personal benefit, according to prosecutors.

The defendants would also stage business meetings in plush offices to make victims believe that a large drug company was about to buy the defendants’ company, prosecutors said.