Two sales representatives of a defunct Costa Mesa gem and investment company were sentenced in Los Angeles on Tuesday on mail fraud charges stemming from a scheme that bilked about 800 customers out of nearly $9 million.
U.S. District Judge Edward J. Rafeedie sentenced Virginia Lukei to two years in prison and Tom Newell to three years. He then suspended the sentences and ordered both to serve four months in a community treatment center, placed them on five years' probation and ordered them to pay $10,000 each in restitution.
"You're not immune to prosecution in an illegal operation just because you're only a salesperson," Gary S. Lincenberg, assistant U.S. attorney in the case, said after the sentencing. "The sentences of Lukei and Newell are not insignificant. Both pled guilty and testified and were cooperative and remorseful. They still got 120 days and restitution."
Lukei and Newell were both sales representatives for Crandall Financial Corp. of Costa Mesa, which has been closed since September, 1984. At that time, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint accusing the company of fraud and obtained a federal court order placing Crandall in receivership.