William Donnelly Yotty, 69, who currently resides in Monarch Beach, California but during the course of the scheme lived in Lodi, California, pleaded guilty to the federal mail fraud and wire fraud charges for operating a Ponzi scheme that featured false promises of large returns to victims who invested in debt obligations and distressed real estate.
In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Yotty admitted that he ran several Lodi-based companies that offered bogus investments in corporate debt obligations and in distressed real estate that he and his salespeople said could be “flipped” for substantial profit.
In the distressed real estate investment scheme, which was run through a company Yotty called Fortuno, Inc. and took place during roughly the same time at the first scheme, Yotty offered victims the opportunity to purchase foreclosed real estate at below-market prices, which would allow them to resell, or “flip,” the properties at two or three times their purchase price. In fact, Yotty himself was flipping the properties to the investors at substantial profits for himself. Yotty concealed from the investors that the price they were paying for the properties was double or triple what Fortuno had paid, and that this inflated price would prevent the victims from realizing any profit of their own. As a further inducement to invest in Fortuno, Yotty and his salespeople also falsely promised victims that the properties were in livable condition and that Fortuno would manage the properties until the promised resale.
Yotty and others involved in the scheme raised more than $10 million in the debt obligation scheme, and more than $6 million in the real estate flipping scheme. When the schemes collapsed, approximately 240 investors lost over $14 million.
Yotty, who has been held without bond since being arrested in this case in May 2014, faces a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced byUnited States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow on November 23, 2015.
The investigation into Yotty’s Ponzi scheme was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.