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Former Execs of Irvine Firm Charged With Investment Fraud

September 04, 1999|EDMUND SANDERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The leaders of a defunct, Irvine-based investment firm have been charged with defrauding about 700 people of nearly $22 million and spending much of the money on themselves, the U.S. attorney's office said Friday.

Four former executives at Cross Financial Services Inc. were arrested Thursday and charged with 46 counts of securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, according to Anthony Pacheco, assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

According to a federal indictment, the Irvine company solicited investors during a 16-month period in 1993 and 1994. The company promised investors big profits, saying it would use their money to make short-term loans to businesses that had won government contracts, a practice known as "factoring."

But instead, Cross officials spent much of the money on big salaries and luxury items, including boats and an airplane, according to the indictment.

Cross founder and former President Douglas S. Cross, 47, of Laguna Niguel, was arrested by FBI agents in Kentucky, where he was conducting business.

Also arrested were Owen R. Fox, 55, of Rockaway Beach, Mo., who acquired Cross Financial in 1993; Carroll E. Siemens, 66, of Peoria, Ariz., who worked as a company consultant; and Michael J. Colello, 46, of New Rochelle, N.Y., who allegedly helped divert investor funds.

An attorney for Cross could not be reached Friday.

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