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3 Men Allegedly Bilked Investors of $2.6 Million

Crime: Operators of a Huntington Beach firm sold promissory notes on nonexistent car loans, indictment says.


Three men who operated a Huntington Beach firm have been indicted on charges of bilking investors out of $2.6 million by selling them promissory notes on nonexistent car loans, federal authorities said Thursday.

The men allegedly promised a 10% return on a typical minimum investment of $25,000, but kept most of the money for themselves, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Santa Ana.

Those charged were Paul J. Booth, 74, and James Cunningham, 44, both of Costa Mesa, and Donald L. Roat, 50, of Waldport, Ore. Booth and Roat will be arraigned July 16. Cunningham remains at large.

Booth and Cunningham formed CBN Financial Resources Corp. in July 1997, and Roat joined the operation, also known as Trans Lending Co., later that year, Assistant U.S. Atty. John Rayburn said.

A federal grand jury indictment, which was returned Wednesday, charged the three with mail fraud and money laundering.

Booth's lawyer, Edward Robinson, said his client "wishes to settle this matter quickly." Roat's attorney, Joseph Donahue, could not be reached for comment

CBN allegedly told investors that its portfolio of automobile loans bought with investor funds totaled $13 million to $15 million. But authorities allege that the company bought less than $35,000 in auto loans.

If convicted of all charges, each defendant could receive up to 55 years in prison, authorities said.

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