December 12, 2009 |
Federal prosecutors disclosed Friday that they were conducting a criminal investigation of Beverly Hills money manager Stanley Chais, who is accused of serving as the Southern California link to a Ponzi scheme operated by disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff. Assistant U.S. Atty. William J. Stellmach revealed the criminal investigation in a motion that sought to postpone for six months a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Chais in June. Stellmach said that proceedings in the SEC lawsuit, if not suspended, could interfere with an "ongoing, parallel criminal investigation" of Chais.
November 5, 2009 |
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.
October 15, 2009 |
A Beverly Hills investment advisor accused of using millions of dollars from investors to bankroll girlfriends' businesses and finance a movie pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal fraud charges that could lead to 20 years in jail. Michael E. McCready, 47, admitted to swindling at least 25 clients out of $9 million in a Ponzi scheme in which new clients' money was used to pay off other investors. The plea agreement came on the same day a civil lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles by more than 20 of McCready's purported victims.
October 9, 2009 |
A bankruptcy judge in New York has frozen the assets of Beverly Hills money manager Stanley Chais, who is accused of funneling hundreds of millions of his clients' dollars to a Ponzi scheme operated by disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff. The order, signed Wednesday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, prohibits Chais from accessing funds held at Goldman Sachs, City National Bank or any other institution. The order stands until an Oct. 22 hearing, at which the freeze could be extended.
October 3, 2009 |
Four relatives of Bernard L. Madoff who worked at his investment firm either knew about his epic Ponzi scheme or should have known about it, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the government-appointed trustee liquidating the swindler's assets. The suit seeks to force Madoff's brother, two sons and niece to repay almost $200 million that they allegedly withdrew from the firm over the years to pay for luxury homes, swanky lifestyles and even a hair salon. The suit doesn't accuse the four -- Peter Madoff, the brother; sons Andrew and Mark; and niece Shana Madoff -- of direct involvement in Bernard Madoff's scheme.
September 29, 2009 |
In what federal prosecutors described as the longest sentence ever imposed for a financial crime in Southern California, a Riverside County man was sentenced today to 100 years in prison for operating a three-year Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of about $35 million. Richard Monroe Harkless, 65, who ran the scheme from 2000 to 2003 through a company he called MX Factors, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips in federal court in Riverside. In letters to the judge, victims of the massive scheme said they were forced to file for bankruptcy protection, put off medical operations or postpone retirement as a result of their losses.
September 23, 2009 |
Beverly Hills financial advisor Stanley Chais, accused of steering hundreds of millions in investor dollars to Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme, was sued this morning by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks restitution for victims and at least $25 million in civil penalties. Chais operated three exclusive funds that offered returns of up to 25%. He told clients that he achieved the returns using a complex combination of derivatives, stock, currency and futures trading, Brown said.
September 15, 2009 |
Moving to contain a public relations mess, Wells Fargo & Co. fired a top executive accused of using a bank-owned Malibu beach house to entertain her family and friends. Cheronda Guyton, a senior vice president responsible for commercial foreclosed properties, broke company rules barring personal use of bank property, Wells Fargo said in a statement Monday. The Times reported last week that Guyton had been spotted by neighbors spending time at the Malibu Colony home with her family this summer.
September 3, 2009 |
As federal regulators probed Bernard L. Madoff's remarkably consistent investment returns, he was able to brush them off, in part, by claiming a magic touch. "Some people feel the market," he told Securities and Exchange Commission investigators in 2006, 2 1/2 years before his gigantic Ponzi scheme was discovered. "Some people just understand how to analyze the numbers they're looking at." Unfortunately for investors in Madoff's fund, some people at the SEC didn't understand how to analyze his numbers, according to an internal agency review.
August 28, 2009 |
A Los Angeles federal judge barred a Pomona man and his two companies, Ben-Wal Leasing Co. and Ben-Wal Management Inc., from doing business in response to a complaint alleging investor fraud filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The civil complaint said the two firms, run by Jerry E. Benson, ran a Ponzi scheme that took in nearly $6 million from about 125 investors, many of them elderly, who lived in mobile home parks throughout California. The court ordered a halt Wednesday to the alleged fraud and froze the assets of Benson and his Ben-Wal companies.