PORTLAND, Ore. — The final defendant has been sentenced in an extraordinary con that defrauded the heir to an Oregon timber fortune of $15 million.
Blancey Lee, 40, was the boyfriend of the psychic who masterminded the complex, decade-long scheme that included phony accents, personas, marriages and children. Though Blancey Lee didn’t devise the plot to steal from Ralph Raines Jr., he lavishly spent the ill-gotten gains on items such as Bentley and Ferrari cars, purchased on the same day with the license plates “MRBIG” and “MRBIG1.”
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones sentenced Lee on Thursday to two years in prison on tax and money laundering charges, but said it was a challenge to decide the right punishment because Lee presents a “paradox.”
The father of four was working by age 12 and can barely read and write. He had no prior criminal history, and fully cooperated with government investigators, identifying and returning assets bought with the victim’s money.
Lee, the judge said, also acted like an “egotistical hedonist,” buying luxury goods and taking expensive vacations.
“You even went to Monte Carlo, didn’t you?” the judge asked. “Gambling there, living the big life. You’re the big shot. Well, it turns out you were using the money of a very vulnerable person.”
The con started in 2004 when Raines Jr. met Rachel Lee at her psychic shop in Bend, Oregon. Though they have the same last name, Rachel and Blancey Lee were not married.
Raines, in his late 50s at the time, was living with his father on a 1,200-acre tree farm west of Portland. The elder Raines later had a stroke, and Rachel Lee moved in to become his caregiver. Her then-teenage daughter, Porsha Lee, joined them.
Rachel Lee gained control of the family’s financial affairs and started siphoning money before the elder Raines died in 2011.
In 2007, Raines Jr. met and connected with a British woman named Mary Marks. Raines Jr. eventually told people he married Marks so she could stay in this country legally.
Marks, however, was really Porsha Lee with a blonde wig and fake accent. She not only fooled him into thinking there was a marriage, but she convinced him they had a son named Giorgio Armani. Another daughter of Rachel Lee allowed her child to play the role of Giorgio.
Acting as Raines’ wife, Porsha Lee negotiated the sale of properties totaling millions of dollars. Though the Mary Marks persona was a fake, it’s the name of Rachel Lee’s mother. By using a real person’s name, the Lees were able to open bank accounts in the joint name of Mary Marks and Porsha Lee.
The deception so fooled Raines that months after the arrests he couldn’t comprehend that his marriage was fake and that Porsha Lee and Mary Marks were the same person. He was still wearing his wedding ring when Rachel Lee was sentenced in February to eight years in federal prison.
Porsha Lee was sentenced recently to almost three years in prison. Before the hearing, prosecutors arranged a meeting in which Porsha Lee showed Raines how she changed her appearance to impersonate Mary Marks.
Raines’ attorney, Kit Jensen, said the demonstration helped Raines see the truth.
“He can understand it now, and he can move forward,” Jensen said.
Blancey Lee apologized to Raines in court Thursday and told the judge he would make things right.
“I have tried my best to fix my mistakes, returning property to Mr. Raines,” he said. “When I get out, I will work to pay him back — all the money I took.”