LOS ANGELES– A businessman who defrauded more than 300 investors in a precious metal investment scam was sentenced today to 135 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal fraud and money laundering offenses in a case that caused victims to lose nearly $11 million.
Bruce Richard Sands Jr., 54, of Valencia, was sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu, who also ordered the defendant to pay $11,039,404 in restitution.
Today's sentencing follows Sands pleading guilty in April to four counts of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
Sands owned Superior Gold Group, LLC and Superior Equity Group, LLC, which had offices in Santa Monica, West Hills and Woodland Hills. At times, the companies used an address in Irvine.
According to court documents, from about October 2007 through the end of 2010, the Superior Gold Companies solicited investments in precious metals and collectible coins. Individuals across the nation were solicited through national radio, television and Internet advertising.
Sands falsely told investors that the precious metals they paid for would be delivered to them directly or sent to their retirement accounts, when Sands knew that Superior Gold would not be purchasing or delivering the precious metals. Many investors never received the metals they purchased.
Sands induced more than 300 victims to invest approximately $24 million and to suffer losses of nearly $11 million while Sands funded his own lavish lifestyle and paid for his own personal expenditures, including payments on his home in Valencia, American Express bills, and luxury vehicles, including a Porsche, a Hummer and a Lincoln SUV.
“For more than three years, Sands operated a large-scale scheme that bilked investors, many of whom were retirees looking for a safe place to invest their money after the market crash of 2008,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This scheme caused a number of elderly victims to suffer substantial financial hardships, including having to sell homes and losing money that could have sent children to college. Today's sentence accounts for the suffering of Sands' victims.”
“Mr. Sands preyed on the elderly and trusting people around the United States, treating their hard-earned money like his personal ATM machine,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “Investors in this case were defrauded through a series of false advertisements, which lent the appearance of legitimacy to the defendant's scheme.”
The investigation of Sands was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service. The Santa Monica City Attorney's Office, which was involved in a civil lawsuit against Sands and Superior Gold, provided assistance.
“Investor fraud causes harm both to the individual investors who are victimized and to public confidence in the financial markets,” says Robert Wemyss, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division. “Mr. Sands violated the trust of his investors and he will now pay the price with a federal prison sentence. The United States Postal Inspection Service will continue to work with its partners in law enforcement to bring such criminals to justice.”
“This case exemplifies the high level of coordination and cooperation by the agencies involved to target perpetrators who are victimizing our community in a significant way,” said L. Robert Savage, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah J. Heidel and Byron J. McLain of the Major Frauds Section.
Topic: Elder Justice Financial Fraud Updated July 29, 2016
Central District of California DOJ / 16-177 / July 29, 2016