30, 20 and 10 Year Sentences Handed Down for $37M Real Estate Ponzi Scheme

Allison Tussey —  September 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

Christopher Jackson, 46, Elk Grove, California, was sentenced to 30 years in prison; Michael Bolden, 60, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to 20 years in prison; and Victor Alvarado, 53, Sacramento, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for their roles in the Diversified Management Consultants real estate Ponzi scheme. .

United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley sentenced each defendant during a daylong hearing in which he heard from many defrauded investors and an FBI forensic accountant. At the end of the day, the court determined that three remaining co-defendants will be sentenced at a later date. After hearing from victims, Judge Nunley characterized the scheme as outright greed, saying, “When you had an opportunity to stop, even when it involved your own family members, you didn’t. This is one of the worst fraud schemes I have ever seen.”

According to court documents, between 2003 and 2009, Diversified Management Consultants (DMC) purported to help people invest money in real estate development and save their homes from foreclosure. In reality, DMC was an investment fraud scheme that defrauded at least 240 people out of approximately $36,950,000.

The defendants ran various investment clubs under the DMC umbrella. They induced people to invest their ordinary savings, tax-deferred retirement savings, and the proceeds of cash-out residential loan refinancing. They told investors that their money would be used for purchasing property and building structures for a real estate venture. In fact, victim money went to pay other investors’ bogus returns on investment and to pay for the defendants’ personal expenses, including luxury lifestyle expenditures. Even as DMC was failing, Bolden urged his subordinate club presidents to recruit still more investors to “keep the lights on” by using new funds to pay returns to earlier investors.

Bolden was the president of DMC and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. This was not Bolden’s first federal fraud conviction. In 1994, Bolden was sentenced to 21 months in prison for conspiracy, loan fraud, and securities fraud in connection with an earlier investment fraud scheme.

Jackson was the president of Genesis Innovations. The only defendant to go to trial, a jury convicted him of six counts of wire fraud. The evidence at trial established that out of the $10 million he took from 80 investors, Jackson invested no more than about $2.5 million in developing real estate. He used the rest to pay false returns to other investors and to live in a way that he himself compared to an entertainment or sports star. Jackson used the Genesis Innovations account to obtain a Lamborghini, a Rolls Royce, a BMW, and a Range Rover. He employed a personal chef and a bodyguard who at times carried Jackson’s cash for him in a metal briefcase. Jackson took an entourage of guests on annual trips to Las Vegas where they joined him at the finest hotels and restaurants. He used over $1 million from his investment club account to go shopping, buy jewelry, and to landscape his house.

Alvarado was the president of Equishare. Alvarado pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of making false statements. Alvarado was the one who found a way for DMC to have access to victims’ tax-deferred retirement accounts through a third-party self-directed IRA administrator. When interviewed by the FBI about his involvement in DMC, Alvarado lied.

Garry Bradford, 65, Sacramento, was the president of Millenium Capital Group. Bradford pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud. He used victim money for Ponzi payments and also for gambling at area casinos. His sentencing is set for September 18, 2014. Nicholo Arceo, 41, Sacramento, was the president of Envision. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy. His sentencing is set for October 2, 2014. Erica Arceo, 46, Sacramento, was an in‑house attorney at DMC. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is no longer eligible to practice law. Her sentencing is set for September 18, 2014.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the sentences.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew D. Segal and Jared C. Dolan prosecuted the case.

“Bolden, Jackson and their co-defendants cruelly took advantage of their victims, extracting from many of them a lifetime of hard-earned savings,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “They may have destroyed his victims’ dreams of financial security in retirement, but their own retirement in federal prison will be considerably worse.” U.S. Attorney Wagner cited the outstanding work of FBI Special Agent Richard Snodgrass as critical to dismantling the complex investment fraud scheme, which required the analysis of dozens of bank accounts and interviews of scores of victims of other witnesses.

“This egregious crime siphoned funds from investors to support the criminals’ lavish lifestyles and keep the Ponzi scheme afloat instead of fulfilling the promise of substantial return on their investments. As this case demonstrates, potential investors must carefully research both the investment and the people who are soliciting funds prior to investing in any opportunity. If it sounds too good to be true, many times it is,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Gliatta of the FBI’s Sacramento division. “The FBI is committed to identifying and investigating those who abuse trust to commit large-scale fraud to ensure that such criminals will face justice.”

Allison Tussey

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