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The Region

May 21, 1986

A participant in a scheme that defrauded hundreds of investors of $3 million to $5 million was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Los Angeles federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. sentenced Harold Mote Pruett, 47, on 20 counts of mail fraud. Assistant U.S. Atty. Ronald J. Nessim, the prosecutor, said Pruett and his mother, co-defendant Gertrude M. Pruett, operated the scheme between 1979-81 from a luxurious Beverly Hills office. Evidence at Pruett's jury trial showed that investors were told that the Pruetts owned a carpet mill that allowed them to buy multimillion-dollar quantities of carpet cheaply, then resell it at profits of up to 60%. Investors were promised returns of 40% per year on their money. The scheme collapsed in 1981 and the Pruetts disappeared. Gertrude Pruett is still a fugitive.

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