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Finance Advisor Guilty in $603,000 Swindle of Elderly Client

O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

July 19, 2000

An Orange County jury has convicted a former investment advisor of bilking an elderly Garden Grove woman, who is now dead, out of $603,000 that she had intended to benefit more than a dozen charitable organizations.

Stephen Cuccia Jr., 41, was found guilty Monday of one count of attempted grand theft and six violations of state securities law, including making material misrepresentations in the sale of securities. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 1.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Doug Brannan said Cuccia, who ran Creative Investments in Hemet, invested a little more than half of the $1.2 million he was handling for almost three years in worthless deals and spent the rest on himself and on some payments to earlier investors.

Brannan said Cuccia took money from as many as two dozen people. State regulators closed the operation in June 1996.

The biggest investor was Helen Smith of Garden Grove, the only Orange County victim, Brannan said. Cuccia allegedly sold Smith phony securities in a land development deal. Smith, who died two years ago, recouped only $13,000.

Brannan said Smith had created a charitable trust that earmarked all but $40,000 to 14 charities.

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