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January 9, 2013

Carson Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison for Running Investment Fraud Scheme Involving Wind Energy Technology

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 7:58 pm

LOS ANGELES—A Carson man is in custody today after being sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for running a $1 million scheme that bilked dozens of victims—including a U.S. Army staff sergeant who was serving on active duty in Afghanistan—who thought they were investing in a legitimate wind energy technology business.

James A. Rivera, 42, was sentenced late yesterday by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who remanded the defendant into custody at the conclusion of the hearing. In addition to the 144-month prison term, Judge Wilson ordered Rivera to pay restitution of just more than $1 million, a figure that represents the total amount lost by victims in the case.

At the conclusion of a jury trial in June 2010, Rivera was convicted of mail fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud related to the scheme he ran out of the Carson offices of companies Rivera called Apostles Inc. and Almighty Wind Inc. Through word-of-mouth, telephone conference calls, and seminars conducted over the Internet, Rivera solicited investments in his companies, which he claimed would manufacture and market a revolutionary new form of windmill or “wind turbine” that would be used for electricity production. Beginning in 2007 and continuing into 2009, Rivera marketed his scheme by making numerous false statements, including that the Nigerian government had committed to buying more than $1 billion worth of the windmills, that the International Monetary Fund was providing hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for the business, and that a prominent Hollywood director was planning to purchase the windmills to power the movie set of his next production. Rivera also falsely told investors that he held multiple patents on the windmill design and that he would be mass-producing the windmills within several months. In reality, there were no such customer orders, financing arrangements or patents, and the windmill had never progressed beyond the early design stage.

While Rivera touted his financial integrity and used religious rhetoric and imagery to appeal to investors, Rivera failed to disclose to investors that he had eight prior criminal convictions, five of which were for fraud and fraud-related offenses. Nor did Rivera reveal to investors that he was on probation for one of his prior fraud convictions and was on bail awaiting trial on additional fraud charges filed in California state court.

December 21, 2012

Seal Beach Woman Indicted in $2 Million Real Estate Scam

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:21 pm

Defendant Previously Convicted of Posing as FBI Agent to Call Victims

SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury today indicted a Seal Beach woman on mail fraud charges for allegedly running an investment scam that falsely promised ownership in commercial real estate and cost victims more than $2 million.

Karen Hanover, 46, was named in a two-count indictment returned this afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleges that Hanover operated the scheme out of two Long Beach-based companies – Commercial Investment Education, LLC and Kharmic Life Strategies, Inc. – and pitched victim-investors at seminars in Southern California, Dallas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the indictment, Hanover falsely promised victims a “fastrack” to owning commercial real estate. If the investors paid between $19,000 and $29,997, Hanover would become their “equity partner” and guarantee ownership in commercial real estate. The indictment alleges that Hanover further guaranteed that investors would “get into a deal” regardless of credit history or financial status, and that they would realize annual returns of 100 percent and would be protected with a money-back guarantee.

However, according to the indictment, after receiving the victims’ money,  Hanover gave them a “fastrack” agreement in which she negated virtually every promise, including the promise that she would refund money if asked.

As a result of the scheme, Hanover caused more than 50 investors to lose more than $2 million, the indictment alleges.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

Hanover will be summoned to appear for an arraignment in United States District Court on January 2, 2013.

If she is convicted, Hanover would face a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Previously in this investigation, Hanover was found guilty in October 2011 of impersonating an FBI agent to contact victims of the alleged real estate fraud scheme. She was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Seal Beach Woman Indicted in $2 Million Real Estate Scam

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:09 am

Defendant Previously Convicted of Posing as FBI Agent to Call Victims

SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury today indicted a Seal Beach woman on mail fraud charges for allegedly running an investment scam that falsely promised ownership in commercial real estate and cost victims more than $2 million.

Karen Hanover, 46, was named in a two-count indictment returned this afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleges that Hanover operated the scheme out of two Long Beach-based companies – Commercial Investment Education, LLC and Kharmic Life Strategies, Inc. – and pitched victim-investors at seminars in Southern California, Dallas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the indictment, Hanover falsely promised victims a “fastrack” to owning commercial real estate. If the investors paid between $19,000 and $29,997, Hanover would become their “equity partner” and guarantee ownership in commercial real estate. The indictment alleges that Hanover further guaranteed that investors would “get into a deal” regardless of credit history or financial status, and that they would realize annual returns of 100 percent and would be protected with a money-back guarantee.

However, according to the indictment, after receiving the victims’ money,  Hanover gave them a “fastrack” agreement in which she negated virtually every promise, including the promise that she would refund money if asked.

As a result of the scheme, Hanover caused more than 50 investors to lose more than $2 million, the indictment alleges.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Hanover will be summoned to appear for an arraignment in United States District Court on January 2, 2013.

If she is convicted, Hanover would face a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Previously in this investigation, Hanover was found guilty in October 2011 of impersonating an FBI agent to contact victims of the alleged real estate fraud scheme. She was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

October 3, 2012

Operator of San Fernando Valley-based Ponzi Scheme Pleads Guilty After Postal Inspectors Retrieve Him From Thailand

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 6:33 pm

LOS ANGELES – A man who fled the country in 2011 after the collapse of his $7.6 million Ponzi scheme, but who was returned to the United States in June to face federal charges, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud and now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Daniel Nelson Tynon, 55, pleaded guilty this morning before United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who is scheduled to sentence Tynon on December 10.

According to court documents, Tynon operated a Van Nuys-based investment company called Dant Corporation. As part of his scheme, Tynon promised investors annual returns of 18 percent, with the income purportedly coming from investments in county property tax liens. Postal Inspectors who investigated this case found no evidence that Tynon invested in tax liens.
More than 40 victims invested a total of approximately $8 million with Tynon. Many of the victims were members of the Rotary International service organization, where Tynon was a Rotary Club Past District Governor.
“This Ponzi scheme is a classic example of affinity fraud, in which the fraudster preys on victims who are members of an identifiable group, exploiting the trust and friendship of the group’s members,” said B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge for the Los Angeles Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. “The victims suffered not only a financial loss, but also – perhaps even greater – the violation of the trust they had placed in a respected leader of their organization.”

After the Ponzi scheme collapsed in early 2012, several investors received information that led them to believe that Tynon had died. Postal Inspectors investigating the matter determined that Tynon was actually alive and living in Thailand. After federal prosecutors filed charges against Tynon, his U.S. passport was revoked based on the outstanding mail fraud arrest warrant. Tynon was apprehended by the Royal Thai Police, Immigration Bureau, and was escorted back to the United States by Postal Inspectors.

During the course of the scheme, which started about 12 years ago, Tynon raised just over $7.6 million, but some victims were partially repaid and the estimated losses in this case are $1.97 million.

May 28, 2012

O.C. Investment Advisor Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison in Ponzi Scheme That Caused Nearly $7 Million in Losses

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:33 am

SANTA ANA, California – The owner and operator of a Santa Ana investment firm was sentenced today to 144 months in federal prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that collected more than $10 million from approximately 36 victims, many of whom were elderly residents of Orange County and Los Angeles County.

Richard H. Nickles, 59, of Irvine, who was the owner of Innovative Advisory Services, Inc., was sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carney ordered Nickles to pay $6.8 million in restitution.

“Investment fraud schemes that target senior citizens are particularly sinister,” said United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “Mr. Nickles went to great lengths to disguise the criminal nature of his scheme, and his actions caused harm to many investors, including the elderly victims who trusted his false promises. This lengthy sentence in federal prison should serve as a warning to others who want to follow in Mr. Nickles’ footsteps: the end of the line for con men is a prison cell.”

Nickles pleaded guilty in June 2011 to mail fraud and securities fraud, admitting that his scheme raised more than $10 million and three dozen victims suffered losses of approximately $6.8 million because some of the money was returned to investors during the course of the scheme.

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DISBARRED LAWYER SENTENCED TO OVER 11 YEARS IN PRISON FOR $9.5 MILLION INVESTMENT SCAM

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:32 am

LOS ANGELES – A Beverly Hills man was sentenced this morning to 135 months in federal prison for running an investment scheme that collected more than $9.5 million from victims who were falsely promised huge profits through investments in various oil companies and oil ventures.

Mark Roy Anderson, 57, who was disbarred from the practice of law in Nevada, received the prison sentence this morning from United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who also ordered the defendant to pay more than $9.5 million in restitution, which represents the total amount of losses from Anderson’s fraudulent scheme.

Judge Anderson stated that “this was nothing more than an elaborate and concerted fraud by a professional conman,” noting that the defendant “had prior convictions…[that] came from a decade-long frenzy of fraudulent activity in the 80s.”  Judge Anderson called Mark Roy Anderson a “financial predator with little regard for the law or harm he causes,” concluding that he was “solely motivated by greed.”

Mark Roy Anderson was remanded into custody in April 2011 after, according to Judge Anderson, he “brazenly violated court orders.” Mark Roy Anderson pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering last July.

Mark Roy Anderson solicited investments from victims who were told that their money would be invested in various oil companies and oil-related ventures in Oklahoma and California and promised his victims substantial returns on their investments.  Instead of using investors’ money for oil ventures, Mark Roy Anderson and his then-wife used investors’ funds for living expenses and personal items. Mark Roy Anderson also used investors’ funds to purchase an interest in the now-closed Prego restaurant in Beverly Hills. In total, approximately 14 victims lost more than $9.5 million.

May 16, 2012

South Bay Resident Charged in Commodities Scam that Caused Dozens of Victims to Lose as Much $2.5 Million

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:48 am

LOS ANGELES – A South Bay man was charged today in a commodities fraud scheme in which several dozen investors lost as much as $2.5 million, announced United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office is prosecuting the case.

Michael J. Leighton, who also used the name Michael Santora, 53, a commodities trader and former mortgage broker based in Torrance, California, was charged with one count of commodities fraud in a criminal information filed this morning in United States District Court.

In conjunction with the criminal charges, prosecutors filed a plea agreement in which Leighton admits that he made a series of material misrepresentations to victim-investors, which included his friends and former colleagues who lived in Southern California.

According to court documents, for roughly the past three years, Leighton told a series of lies and failed to disclose information to those seeking to invest in a commodities pool. Specifically, Leighton told investors that their funds would be invested in futures linked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index that trade on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is regulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Leighton also falsely told investors that only half of their funds would be at risk at any one time and that they would receive a certain rate of return.

In fact, Leighton invested more than half of the investors’ funds in the futures and used some of their funds to pay for his living expenses. The investors did not receive the promised rates of return because the investments were not successful. In order to conceal his fraud, Leighton created false spreadsheets and account statements falsely showing that the commodities pool was earning certain returns.

The charge of commodities fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison.

Leighton has agreed to appear in federal court for an arraignment on June 4.

May 8, 2012

Orange County Man Who Took $5.5 Million from Elderly Couple in Gold Investment Scheme Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:27 am

SANTA ANA, California – A La Habra man who was convicted of defrauding an elderly couple in a $5.5 million gold investment scheme was sentenced this evening to 168 months in federal prison.

John Arthur Walthall, 56, was sentenced late today by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford. In addition to the prison term, Judge Guilford ordered Walthall to pay $2,479,000  in restitution to the victims, who are both in their 80s.

A federal jury in Santa Ana convicted Walthall on December 2, 2011 of four counts of wire fraud and one count of failure to appear in court. During a four-week trial, prosecutors established that Walthall persuaded an Orange County couple in 2007 to invest $5.5 million in a partnership he called Advanced Recycling General Partnership, which he claimed would fund the extraction of gold from abandoned mines. In order to boost his credibility, Walthall told the couple – who were 83 and 80 at the time of the fraud – that he had conducted research on the gold mining process for two decades, they would earn a profit on their investment, and they would authorize all expenses.

However, the evidence at trial showed that Walthall spent the victims’ money to pay for various personal items. “Without the victims’ knowledge, defendant spread the victims’ money across more than 30 bank accounts in the names of both the partnership and various fictitious business names at different financial institutions, and used the money to pay alimony to his ex-wife, pay film school tuition for his son, pay off a personal debt, pay off multiple vehicles, and purchase a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, among other personal expenditures,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

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February 1, 2012

Father-Son Team Sentenced to More Than 12 Years in Federal Prison for Involvement in $39 Million Investment Scam

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 10:56 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Sherman Oaks man who along with his son ran a scheme that defrauded more than 1,000 victims out of over $39 million with promises of large returns in companies, including one that supposedly sold caffeinated breath mints, was sentenced today to 153 months in federal prison.

Richard Alan Cohen, 63, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge George H. Wu.

Last Monday, Richard Cohen’s son – Daniel Cohen, 36, of Calabasas – was sentenced to 151 months in prison for his role in the fraudulent telemarketing scam.

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Wu ordered the Cohens to pay $39,590,212 in restitution to victims of the fraud.

In the mid-2000s, the Cohens formed several companies – including Eurobrand, LLC, doing business as Euromints; Samuel & Cohen Media, LLC, doing business as Unleashed Magazine; Mintech International, Inc.; and Rig Leasing, Inc. - that they used to solicit investors with false claims that the businesses were successful and generated large profits. Potential investors were solicited in several ways, including by a team of salespeople who worked in a Calabasas “boiler room.” In addition to making claims that the businesses were viable and successful, salespeople often told potential investors that the companies were on the verge of “going public” or were going to be taken over by larger companies. Salespeople commonly told potential investors that they could buy company stock from a widowed investor who was willing to sell her investment at a discounted price.

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September 13, 2011

Entertainment Executive Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million-Dollar Stock Fraud and Scheme to Bilk Investor

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:51 pm

LOS ANGELES—AHollywood producer who founded and ran various television production and distribution companies pleaded guilty today to federal charges in two cases—one involving stock fraud and another stemming from a scam that bilked an investor in one of the companies.

Drew Savitch Levin, 57, of Pacific Palisades, pleaded guilty this afternoon in the first case to conspiring to inflate the revenue and stock price of Team Communications Group, Inc., a West Los Angeles-based company that Levin founded and for which he served as CEO until early 2001.

After being forced out of Team, Levin went on to run other TV production companies. In the second case, Levin pleaded guilty this afternoon to wire fraud and admitted he bilked a French investor who put 80,000 Euros into a Levin-run company in 2008. When Levin failed to repay the money, the investor commenced legal proceedings, which prompted Levin to e-mail the victim bogus bank documentation that falsely suggested Levin had repaid the money.

Levin entered into a plea agreement with the government to resolve the two cases against him. United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson allowed Levin to plead guilty today, but Judge Pregerson has discretion to accept or reject the plea agreement that mandates a seven-year prison term. The plea agreement also calls for Levin to pay more than $2 million in restitution that will go to Levin’s victims in the United States, France, Austria, England, and Switzerland.

Judge Pregerson scheduled a sentencing hearing for November 18.

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