- Associated Press - Friday, January 13, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - A Minnesota man guilty of extorting Arizonans out of $3.5 million was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years federal prison.

A jury found 59-year-old Steven Audette guilty in March of one count of conspiracy and 90 counts of wire fraud. His wife, Mary Roach, pleaded guilty in the scam and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

Authorities say Audette tricked three Scottsdale, Arizona, residents into believing he was on the run from the mafia and needed money to pay federal authorities for their protection.

Audette stole nearly $3.5 million from his victims after threatening to kill their family if they didn’t turn over the money.

Police say he pulled off the scheme from Arizona, Minnesota, Texas and Alabama.

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