Fraud Nets Billionaire Nearly 8 Years Behind Bars

( – A Chicago billionaire will spend over seven years behind bars for a massive fraud scheme using an advertising startup with big-name investors, including Goldman Sachs and a venture capital firm owned by the governor of Illinois.

On Wednesday, June 26, 38-year-old Rishi Shah was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin to seven years and six months in prison for using the advertising company he co-founded, Outcome Health, for money laundering and fraud. Shah was convicted last year of over a dozen charges related to the scheme. Along with Shah, two other Outcome Health executives were also sentenced, according to a statement on Monday, July 1, by the US Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors, who originally sought a sentence of 15 years, said that Shah was the “driving force” behind the scheme, lying to “clients, lenders, investors, and an audit firm.” The defendants allegedly lied to pharmaceutical companies that were Outcome clients and accepted payments for advertisements that weren’t placed, as well as to investors about the company’s financial standing. Among those investors were Goldman Sachs, Alphabet Inc. (the parent company of Google), and a venture capital firm co-founded by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker called 53 Stations, which is a branch of The Pritzker Organization.

Shah ran the scheme for several years before a Wall Street Journal article from 2017 blew the story wide open, leading to his downfall among Democratic circles, where his reputation was growing before the revelations. He originally founded the company in 2006 as Context Media Health while studying at Northwestern University, and infiltrated Chicago’s political circles, earning a ringing endorsement from the city’s former mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

Aside from lying about the financial health of Outcome, Shah and his fellow executives sold more advertisement space than it was able to broadcast. Nicole M. Argentieri, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, said that the company’s executives “deceived their clients… auditor… lenders… and investors” for several years.

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