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Westlake Village man sentenced in $44-million Ponzi scheme

Judge orders Curtis D. Somoza to serve 25 years in federal prison for bilking investors in California and Texas.

November 05, 2009|Martin Zimmerman

A Westlake Village man was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for bilking California and Texas investors out of more than $44 million.

Curtis D. Somoza and co-defendant Robert Coberly, also of Westlake Village, were accused of collecting $64 million from investors with guarantees of easy returns, and then using much of the money to buy luxury homes, cars, yachts and jewelry.

"This was an orgy of self-indulgence," U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz said Tuesday before imposing the sentence on Somoza.

The judge also ordered Somoza to pay $44.2 million in restitution.

Somoza, 41, pleaded guilty last year to 19 felony charges, including conspiracy and multiple counts of mail fraud and money laundering. He was arrested in May 2006 and has been in jail since April 2007.

According to court documents, Somoza and Coberly lured investors with promises that they could earn "risk free" annual returns of 25% through sophisticated bond investments or by investing in pools of life insurance policies.

Although Somoza and Coberly made payments of about $28 million to investors, 63 of the 91 who participated lost money, prosecutors said.

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martin.zimmerman@latimes.com

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