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A very nice article was written about our firm last week by Roger Showley of the Union Tribune. Here is a photo and the article.

Written by
Roger Showley

Gaston & Gaston, like many law firms, has gone all digital at its new offices on the 24th floor of the Executive Office Building in downtown San Diego.

Instead of rows of law books and storerooms of file cabinets, the attorneys and staff consult reference materials online and file briefs in the cloud. “If we get a hard copy, which we still do, we scan it and put it in the computer and send the hard copies to the basement,” said Frederick Gaston, whose grandfather and father were both attorneys.

Gaston, 39, served in the Navy before getting his law degree at the University of San Diego in 2003. That was just about the time going all digital became possible.

And so when the firm moved to its 9,700-square-foot space a few weeks ago, Gaston decided to give the partners larger offices and set aside two conference rooms.

“Of course, we do have one large bookshelf of practice guides, but our library is in the cloud,” he said, referring to the practice of using remote online storage.

But tradition isn’t completely absent.

Gaston instituted an annual presentation of swords to the attorneys and staff who complete trials. They are engraved with the person’s name, the firm’s name, the year and a Roman numeral indicating which number trial they completed.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “With a litigation firm, we’re aggressive by nature — we have to be. Everybody’s doing battle. We could give flowers with their names, but that’s not the same.”

Gaston pays about $200 per sword and picks the style each year online. Then he gets them engraved in San Diego’s University Heights area.

“You can buy decorative or functional blades,” he said. “We always buy functional in case the zombie apocalypse comes.”


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Global corporate fraud declines; insider fraud not so much

By Jim Barnett, CNN
October 16, 2012 — Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
A survey of senior executives finds corporate fraud down sharply
In 2011, 75% of those surveyed reported incidents of fraud at their company
In 2012, only 61% reported incidents of fraud
The percentage of fraud that was committed by insiders grew, from 60% to 67%
(CNN) — As corporate fraud falls around the world, the percentage of fraud committed by corporate insiders is climbing, a new survey reports.
The study, commissioned by risk consulting firm Kroll Advisory Solutions, found 67% of firms that had at least one incident of fraud in the past year laid the blame on insiders such as junior employees, senior managers and agents of the company.
That’s up from 60% last year and 55% in 2010.
But the report said the proportion of companies reporting that they were affected by at least one incident of fraud in the past year dropped to 61% from 75% in 2011.
There’s a downside to the decrease in fraud, however. The survey’s numbers suggest companies are becoming more complacent. Respondents describing themselves as highly or moderately vulnerable to information theft declined from 50% in 2011 to just 30% this year.
While information attacks on customer data remain a big concern, the Kroll survey showed it’s only one part of the hacker threat. Nearly half of the respondents said either company financial data or strategic data had been stolen.
“The survey tells the story of a changing fraud environment, with dangers ebbing and flowing in often unpredictable ways,” Kroll officials said in an executive summary of the company’s sixth annual report.
The survey polled more than 830 senior executives worldwide this summer; 52% of the participants represented companies with annual revenues above half a billion dollars.
The average cost to businesses due to theft declined from 2.1% of revenues to 0.9%.
“The results this year demonstrate that companies must turn their attention inward. In particular, firms need to make protection of confidential information and electronic data a top priority,” said Robert Brenner, Kroll senior managing director, in a statement accompanying the report.
According to the survey, fraud was most prevalent in India, where 68% of companies reported at least one incident, followed by Indonesia, 65%; Russia, 61%; the United States, 60%; Mexico, 59%; and Canada, 47%.

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So Long to our Friend Joel Bennett

A very good lawyer, man and friend has passed on. Everyone at GnG will miss him dearly.

Bennett, Joel R November 19, 1940 – October 8, 2012 Joel R. Bennett, beloved husband, father, brother and grandfather, passed away October 8 with his wife, Carolann, by his side. Always joyful, Joel brought his sunny, up-beat disposition to all he did; the law, tennis, socializing and being with family, especially beloved granddaughter, Sienna. Joel valued helping people as a lawyer for almost fifty years. He will be greatly missed by his whole family including his children Parker (Denna), Courtney and Victoria.

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Hoover man agrees to repay $5.3M lost in decade-plus Ponzi scheme

By Eric Velasco — The Birmingham News

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — A Hoover man agreed to repay up to $5.3 million to more than two-dozen victims of failed investment clubs he ran, and a co-defendant agreed to another $350,000 in restitution after pleading guilty in Birmingham today in a securities-fraud scheme.

Spero Vourliotis, 52, also likely faces prison time when he is sentenced Nov 30 after admitting he started legitimate investment clubs, but began filing false statements to retain clients and bring in new ones after the investments quickly soured.

Three-dozen people invested a total of $7.5 million invested in Capstone Group, Cornerstone Investment Group and Tristone Investment Group between 1999 and 2011, Steve Feaga, deputy director of enforcement and prosecution with the Alabama Securities Commission, said during the plea hearing in Jefferson County Circuit Court. Some $1.6 million was paid out to clients, but 26 investors lost all of their money, Feaga said in the hearing before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tommy Nail.

Carey Michael Billingsley, of Birmingham, also pleaded guilty today to one count of selling an unregistered security in the scheme. Billingsley was an associate with Vourliotis who recruited some investors.

Vourliotis started with about a half-dozen clients, who agreed to let him keep 35 percent of any profits, Feaga told Nail during the hearing. The groups did well for about six months, until bad investments sent the balance sheets tumbling, Feaga said.

But Vourliotis kept filing fake statements with clients showing the investments were making a profit. Principal from later investors was used to pay “profits” to some earlier investors. By the time Vourliotis reported the scheme to securities regulators, the investment account was down to $205,000.

“While not a classic Ponzi scheme, it had elements of a Ponzi scheme in it,” Feaga said after the hearing.

Vourliotis was indicted on 13 counts, but 12 counts of either selling unregistered securities or selling securities as an unregistered agent were dismissed in exchange for the plea. He admitted to running an overall securities fraud scheme.

Feaga said the state would seek a prison term of 5-10 years for Vourliotis. Doug Jones, one of Vourliotis’ lawyers, said he would ask for probation because his client had brought the scheme to light and other mitigating factors.

“You’ve got an uphill struggle as far as straight probation is concerned,” Nail told Jones.

Billingsley, 61, faces 1-10 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 30.

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Florida man gets prison for NY investment fraud

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A Florida mutual fund executive on Tuesday admitted that he lied when he promised investors early shares in companies such as Facebook and Groupon and spent their money instead on a lavish lifestyle that included pricey cars and jewelry.

John Mattera, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and was immediately sent to prison to await a Feb. 1 sentencing. He admitted defrauding investors by claiming falsely in 2010 and 2011 that he and his mutual funds owned shares in Facebook Inc. and Groupon Inc., which were then privately traded. Investors poured $11 million into escrow accounts that prosecutors say Mattera drained, spending $4 million on expensive jewelry, interior decorating and luxury cars.

Judge Richard Sullivan said he could not trust Mattera, 50, would show up to face a prison term that federal sentencing guidelines suggested should be between 10 and 12 years.

“I don’t think I have to be a sucker and take him at his word,” the judge said after noting Mattera’s four prior convictions for similar crimes in Kentucky and Florida and the fact that he missed his flight Monday morning and forced a postponement of his guilty plea from Monday to Tuesday.

The judge also cited a contempt finding against Mattera in a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying he found it “troubling and it suggests somebody who doesn’t intend to or has no ability to follow through on court orders.”

The judge accepted Mattera’s plea to charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud but said he will wait to decide whether to accept his plea to a money laundering charge because it was unclear that Mattera fully conceded his guilt.

As part of his plea deal, Mattera agreed to forfeit $13 million, though his lawyer said he could barely afford to stay overnight at a hotel in New York before his plea.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “With false promises of profitable investments in high-profile stock, John Mattera lured unsuspecting investors into a meticulously orchestrated, multi-million dollar fraud scheme, and used their money to fund his lavish lifestyle. With today’s guilty plea, we begin the process of holding him to account for his crimes.”

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RSF man indicted in $91M real estate scam

Authorities allege James B. Catledge sold hotel resort investments through several companies including Net Worth Solutions, LLC. Here's a YouTube screenshot of one of his motivational speeches.

A former Las Vegas businessman who now lives in San Diego County is accused of raising $91 million from investors to build a Carribean hotel, but instead diverted most of the money to himself and a business partner, court records show.

A federal grand jury indictment filed last week names James B. Catledge, of Rancho Santa Fe, as one of two alleged co-conspirators in a plan that falsely promised returns to investors in a Dominican Republic hotel project that never opened and was later foreclosed upon. Derek F.C. Elliott, of Ontario, Canada, is the other co-defendant listed in the indictment, which stemmed from a two-year FBI case.

The two also are named in a separate complaint from the SEC filed in May that also deals with investments in the same Caribbean development and another failed hotel. Other media outlets have reported that the scheme may have touched residents from all over the nation, including Utah,Idaho and Florida.

Authorities say Catledge, 45, and Elliott, 42, guaranteed at least 1,200 investors returns of up to 12 percent. The SEC alleges that most of the money went to “exorbitant” commissions that were never disclosed and returns to earlier investors, also known as a Ponzi scheme. The two failed to keep up with loan payments on the properties, and both fell into foreclosure.

In the more recent case, Catledge and Elliott face one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco said Friday.

Catledge, who’s a self-proclaimed motivational speaker, could not be reached for comment. A number tied to his Rancho Santa Fe home address appears to be disconnected. His attorney, who is in Las Vegas, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The federal indictment alleges that Catledge and Elliott bought an old hotel resort in the Dominican Republic named Juan Dolio Resort using a bank loan. They then persuaded people to invest in the property with the promise of certain returns. In total, the two men received $91.3 million from investors through several company names — Impact America, Impact Net Worth, LLC; and Net Worth Solutions — all together known as Impact, which Catledge founded. More than $13 million of that amount went to renovations, and $68.6 million went to their commissions and other payments.

The indictment also charges that Catledge and Elliott failed to tell investors an insufficient amount of money was going toward renovations and instead went to unrelated projects and commissions. Also, the two guaranteed some investors would see a return of 8 percent to 12 percent for five years, a rate they knew “was unsupportable and could not be achieved,” the indictment says.

Authorities say the renovations were never completed and the bank foreclosed on the property in September 2009.

Catledge’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 5 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Elliot’s next court date not yet been set.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed its own complaint against Catledge and Elliott in May. The SEC’s case covers the investments tied to the Juan Dolio Resort and another called Cofresi, also in the Dominican Republic.

SEC officials allege that about 1,200 investors gave the duo more than $163 million between the fall of 2004 and 2009. The amount in this case is higher than the one cited in the criminal case filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California because it includes investments raised in the two hotel deals.

SEC investigator say the money raised was not used for those projects and instead “largely used for other purposes, including the payment of exorbitant undisclosed commissions and promised returns to earlier investors,” based on a statement from the financial-regulation agency.

Of the $163 million of investor money, about 36 percent, or $59 million, went toward commissions to the two co-defendants and others, the SEC charges.

Court records show Catledge has yet to file an answer to the SEC complaint.

It appears the state of Idaho took matters into its own hands in connection to the Cofresi and Juan Dolio deals.

In 2009, state officials sued Catledge, Elliot and their affiliated businesses for failing to repay nearly 30 Idaho residents who invested in the Cofresi and Juan Dolio hotels after they agreed to do so in a consent decree, the Idaho Statesman reported in July.

This group of investors, which put in more than $3 million of their money, are expected to only get back about half of a million dollars, the Statesman reported.

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Former chief executive of assisted living centers faces 56-count federal indictment

Jon Harder
 The fact that the FBI has seized his 6-year-old Ford pickup is the least of Jon Michael Harder’s worries.

Harder, 47, the former chief executive officer of Sunwest Management Inc., faces a 56-count federal indictment for fraud, money laundering, and other charges. Federal prosecutors accuse Harder of defrauding more than 1,000 investors who placed money in Sunwest’s senior living properties.

On Friday, Harder entered a not guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Harder founded Salem-based Sunwest. The company, now essentially defunct, spawned hundreds of closely related, limited liability companies that developed and operated retirement homes.

Beside the possibility of prison, federal prosecutors are seeking restitution totaling $130 million from Harder, according to the indictment.

Under asset forfeiture laws, federal agents have seized four of Harder’s vehicles and are obtaining a diamond ring valued at $200,000, said Allan Garten, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Investors who put money into Sunwest’s failed tenant-in-common investments had little sympathy for Harder’s predicament

“In our last couple of years, this has probably been our happiest day,” said Tony Elshout, an investor from California, who served on a creditors’ committee after Sunwest’s bankruptcy. “We hope that after the arraignment, they will haul (Harder) away in chains.”

“He was doing the wrong thing, and he knew it,” said Roxanne Shoemaker, a Salem resident and retired music teacher who invested in a Sunwest. “Some people lost their entire retirement account.”

Federal prosecutors accuse Harder of operating the Sunwest enterprise as a “Ponzi scheme” starting in 2006. Even as Sunwest began to collapse, Harder “went on an acquisition binge to fund his business empire and to mask losses and the commingling of funds,” according to the indictment.

From 2006 to 2008, Sunwest acquired assisted living facilities at the rate of about one per week, according to prosecutors.

Harder made “materially false promises” that investors’ returns would be based solely on the financial performance of individual assisted living facilities, according to prosecutors. The investors’ funds, however, were commingled with other investors’ funds as well as bank loans, prosecutors said.

Sunwest had all the trappings of a successful company, including corporate jets. Harder and other Sunwest officials traveled throughout the country to solicit investors and obtain bank loans.

Harder’s fraud case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service; FBI; IRS Criminal Investigation; and the United States Bankruptcy Trustee’s Office.

Allegations that Sunwest, under Harder’s leadership, had bilked investors are nothing new. A 2009 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil lawsuit that asserted investors were defrauded.

Harder’s lawyer in the criminal case, federal public defender Stephen Sady, said Harder had cooperated in the civil cases that arose from the companies financial troubles in 2008. “He fully cooperated and contributed his assets to successfully resolving the bankruptcy,” Sady said.

Sunwest’s once vast real estate empire was broken up and sold as part of a bankruptcy reorganization. The company’s corporate office in Salem withered away about two years ago. Earlier this year, the last remnants of Sunwest’s real estate portfolio were sold at auction.

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Arrests, warrants in investor fraud case

Four suspects connected to a real estate company in Grass Valley have been arrested and charged with securities fraud, conspiracy and elder abuse for allegedly operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked dozens of investors of more than $2.3 million, according to California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

Phillip Lester, 65, and Ellen Lester, 65, who are married, Susan Laferte, 58, and Jon Blinder, 58, were arrested on Thursday in Nevada County and booked into Nevada County Jail..

The arrest declaration alleges that Gold Country Lenders, a real estate company in Grass Valley, engaged in a pattern of theft and fraud-related crimes for more than eight years, Harris said in a news release. Investor funds were used to make interest payments to earlier investors or for projects in which the company’s owner had a financial interest.

“These defendants exploited their personal relationships with these victims and emptied their bank accounts,” Harris said. “Schemes that target the elderly are especially heinous, which is why prosecuting fraud and elder abuse needs to remain priorities for law enforcement.”

Phillip Lester, CEO of Gold Country Lenders, the organization at the center of the alleged scheme, and Laferte, the firm’s Chief Financial Officer, were charged with 66 felony counts of elder abuse, securities fraud and conspiracy. Laferte is Phillip Lester’s sister.

Ellen Lester was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy and securities fraud. Blinder was charged with four felony counts of securities fraud and was released on bail Thursday.



Blinder is currently the interim executive director of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council.

In an email to The Union, Blinder professed his innocence while declining to specifically address the allegations.

“As I am discussing my situation with counsel, I have realized that it is not the appropriate time to discuss this matter,” Blinder wrote. “I will answer all these untrue charges in due time. I do want to publicly thank the truly overwhelming support from my friends and associates who have responded to me on Facebook and by email. It is truly heartwarming and gratifying that the work I have done in this community is acknowledged with all the trust and love I have received and have deeply felt. My gratitude has no bounds.”

Blinder has led the ERC since January, said ERC President Kimberly Parker in an email to The Union, who declined to provide any updates regarding Blinder’s current employment status with the organization.

“The executive committee of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council (ERC) learned yesterday afternoon about the arrest of Mr. Blinder,” Parker said in an email to The Union. “At this point we have very little information and need to understand the details before making further comment.”

The ERC “has gained strength and momentum in addressing economic issues in our community,” Parker said.

The ERC was recently awarded a $120,000 contract by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to manage the county’s effort to attract more tourists to the region.

Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Ted Owens said the board trusts the discretion of the ERC executive committee in making decisions regarding Blinder’s future.

“As with many in our community, the Board of Supervisors was surprised to learn about the arrest of Mr. Jon Blinder,” Owens said. “Because Mr. Blinder serves as a contractor for the Economic Resource Council (ERC), this is a personnel issue between him and the ERC Board of Directors. Going forward, the County will continue to work with the ERC Board of Directors and its Chair, Kimberly Parker, on current and ongoing projects. We are confident that the ERC Board will take the appropriate steps in dealing with this issue.”



From January 2003 to June 2011, Gold Country Lenders sold securities on specific real estate development projects, promising investors annual returns of 8 to 12 percent, Harris said. These investments were supposedly secured by a first or second deed of trust on the property. In fact, some of the promised deeds of trust were never recorded, while others were recorded but subordinate to other loans, or were diluted by the repackaging and overselling of shares.

In October 2010, the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation in response to complaints filed by numerous investors.

The arrest affidavit alleges that investors were not told that Philip Lester had a partnership interest in some of the development projects he sold to investors, or that some of the land targeted for development had significant toxic waste issues, Harris said. Many of the victims are elderly and had known and trusted the defendants for many years.

Unbeknownst to investors, their investment funds were used to make interest payments to earlier investors or for purposes other than the development project they had invested in, Harris said. For example, victims’ funds were diverted to purchase and operate the Auburn Valley Country Club, a prestigious golf course and clubhouse where the Lesters resided.

Agencies that assisted in serving today’s arrest warrants include the Grass Valley Police Department, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corporations, Harris said.

“Protecting consumers and investors is at the forefront of the Department of Corporation’s mission,” said California Corporations Commissioner Jan Lynn Owen. “The Department of Corporations works diligently to strongly enforce and uphold California’s financial laws to the fullest extent.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.

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Ponzi scheme organizer Cladek sentenced to 30 years

Posted: September 20, 2012 – 2:23pm
Morris News Service

Lydia Cladek, to the end, claimed she did nothing wrong.

Even after the 68-year-old St. Augustine Beach woman sat inside the federal courthouse Thursday in Jacksonville and watched a dozen men and women describe how she and her company ruined them financially, she remained defiant.

There was the University of Florida professor who lost all of her retirement savings and likened what Cladek did to her financially as “rape.” There was the man who invested in Cladek’s company hoping to fund his invalid father’s final months in a nursing home and never received a payment. There was the elderly man with hearing aids who said he contemplated suicide after losing his million-dollar “dream home” and Porsche because of his involvement in Cladek’s company.

Cladek, waif-like in an orange jumpsuit and shackled, sat with a straight back at her defense table listening to those stories and others. She showed no emotion, only taking copious notes on a legal pad as her victims spoke to the judge about to sentence her to 30 years in prison.

A jury convicted Cladek in January of four counts of wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy. It was a Ponzi scheme and at least $50 million of investors’ money was lost.

Cladek opened Lydia Cladek Inc. in 1998 and the company, with an office in St. Augustine Beach, eventually grew to roughly 100 employees. The company bought subprime automobile finance contracts from dealers at discounted prices.

Before the FBI raided her office in the spring of 2010, Cladek had three vacation homes, lived in a gated community in St. Augustine Beach and had $2,000-sheets on her bed. She sipped tea at socials, bought lavish real estate properties and was a churchgoer with a reputation of having a soft spot for animals.

But her victims say all of that was a facade she used to help gain older, typically women, investors, who she promised a sizeable chunk of the income from the automobile notes’ interest rates.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Taylor on Thursday told the court Cladek was “a thief.” He said she was not a thief for an hour or a day or a month, but for years. Between 2003 and 2010, he said, about $112 million was invested in the company.

Taylor dubbed Cladek a “mistress of self-indulgence.”

The prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Cladek to 30 years in prison.

Federal public defender Maurice Grant II suggested his client, despite her illegitimate business, was at heart a good person who got in over her head. The downturn in the economy in the late 2000s, he said, played a part in the company’s financial problems. He asked the judge to take his client’s advanced age into consideration.

When Judge Timothy Corrigan gave Cladek a chance to speak, she put on a pair of reading glasses at the podium and insisted she had been wrongly convicted.

“I took nobody’s funds,” she said loudly and glared at the judge. “I’m innocent. I will not quit until I prove it.”

The judge sentenced her to what essentially amounts to a life term in federal prison. He noted she showed no remorse and took no responsibility for the positions she has left her victims in. She will be nearing 100 if she gets out. The judge also ordered her to pay at least $34 million in restitution to about 300 victims, though the exact amount will be determined in coming weeks.

In late 2010, Cladek’s attorney told a court her properties had been seized, less than $5,000 remained in her checking account and her only income was a monthly $1,575 Social Security check.

One victim, Jane Edney, told the judge she wasn’t so sure all of the millions of dollars that disappeared were lost.

“I suspect if Lydia gets out of jail, she’ll know where to look for that money,” she said. “And frankly, I hope she goes to jail until hell freezes over.”

Most audience members then applauded and Corrigan told them to settle down.

Outside of the courthouse, Edney apologized for her language.

“I’m sorry about the dirty words,” she said. “They just came out.”

Then she left for St. Augustine, where hors d’oeuvres and other victims of Cladek were waiting to have a party.

“We’re celebrating,” Edney said.

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Guilty in Ponzi scheme, Mandeville man wants to make victims whole

Charged with duping his neighbors and the parents of his players into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Ponzi scheme, St. Tammany Parish youth baseball coach Hugo Edgardo Urrea pleaded guilty Monday to money laundering, securities fraud and felony theft. State Judge Allison H. Penzato sentenced Urrea, 55, of Mandeville, to the following concurrent punishments: 20 years for money laundering, with 15 of those years suspended; five years for securities fraud; and 10 years for theft, half of which was suspended.

Penzato added five years of active supervised probation for Urrea upon his release; ordered him to pay $247,000 in restitution; and prohibited him from engaging in any form of the securities business, said David Caldwell, a prosecutor in the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, whichannounced the resolution of the case on Tuesday. Caldwell — who prosecuted the defendant alongside Assistant Attorney General Butch Wilson — said, “The bottom line is (Urrea) got five years in prison, and he has an additional 15 years hanging over his head if he tries to victimize anybody else.”

Meanwhile, according to his attorney, St. Tammany public defender John Lindner, Urrea has apologized to both the court and those he bilked. Urrea is “willing to do everything he can to make the victims whole, and I believe he will,” Lindner remarked.

Urrea solicited $419,000 from nearly two dozen people to either invest the money or provide investment advice, a joint investigation involving the state Office of Financial Institutions as well as the offices of Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed determined.

The problem is Urrea wasn’t a licensed securities dealer, and he wasn’t actually investing the people’s dollars. He deposited the money directly into his accounts, using it to pay his mortgage and his son’s tuition to Auburn University. He wrote checks worth thousands to his son and withdrew thousands more in cash.

Urrea had been fired from a number of securities firms over the previous two decades, usually for making unauthorized transactions with his clients’ money for his own gain, David Caldwell has said. One ex-employer settled a lawsuit with a client for $155,000 in 2006, blaming Urrea for illegal actions that led to the client’s losses, court documents show.

Since then, Urrea has not been a registered securities broker, Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions records indicate. The state commissioner of securities issued Urrea a cease-and-desist letter in September 2009, forbidding him from ever again advising on investments in Louisiana.

Nonetheless, he sold commodities investments to acquaintances and the parents of young baseball players he coached on the north shore about June 2006. It is not clear precisely where or what teams he coached.

In all, there were 23 individuals ripped off by Urrea, but charges were subsequently filed against him in relation to at least eight people victimized between about 2008 and 2011, Caldwell said. The restitution money represents funds owed specifically to them.

Urrea’s investors handed him checks ranging from $2,000 to $155,000, prosecutors have explained. Some investors grew tired of Urrea’s services, so they asked for it back. He paid them — but with funds he collected from other victims.

Authorities originally arrested Urrea on Aug. 31, 2011, and booked him with felony theft. He posted a $100,000 bond, a condition of which was being monitored with a GPS ankle bracelet.

He removed the ankle bracelet on Oct. 21, 2011, later claiming it was malfunctioning. On Oct. 21, 2011, still out on bond and without his monitoring device, he was arrested and booked with unlawfully entering a private residence and being a peeping Tom.

Urrea at a hearing in January testified that he’d offered to help a neighbor reinvest $131,000 from her retirement account in exchange for a $5,000 fee and 9 percent commission. The Mandeville Police Department says she’d given him the check and filled out an application for it to be deposited in an annuity account. But he needed an additional signature; went to her townhouse; and barged in through the front door after she didn’t answer, demanding she sign the paper.

She told police she felt she had no choice but to do so. Then, she heard he had been arrested, called him and wanted her money back. He complied, but he called more than a dozen times that night and the next morning. She didn’t respond, so he supposedly went to the woman’s house and was spotted peeking into her windows by a neighbor.

Urrea pleaded guilty to unauthorized entry in January and received five years of probation. The state did not pursue the peeping Tom charge, but Penzato increased the bond in Urrea’s securities and theft case to $200,000.

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