Gaston E. Cantens, 73, Miami, Florida, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, in connection with a fraud committed at Royal West Properties, Inc.
United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams imposed the statutory maximum term of imprisonment.
According to documents filed with the court and statements made during the sentencing hearing, Royal West was a Miami-Dade corporation that promised to pay investors a fixed rate of return on investments made with the company. Gaston E. Cantens was the president of Royal West Properties, Inc. In this capacity, Cantens allegedly recruited individuals to invest in Royal West by promising investors that their investments would be guaranteed by properties or mortgages that acted as collateral.
Cantens used his extensive ties to the South Florida community, including his ties to Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, to recruit investors to the fraud.
Cantens misappropriated money from investors by making materially false representations and concealing and omitting to state material facts concerning, among other things, the financial condition of Royal West, the manner in which mortgages and properties were assigned as collateral to investors, the assignment of non-performing mortgages, the assignment of mortgages that were paid in full, the proper recording of mortgages, and the recording of investors’ interests in properties and mortgages.
Specifically, Cantens told investors that their moneys were collateralized by individual properties but failed to inform them that the collateralized properties had previously been assigned to other investors. Cantens received moneys from investors based on these misrepresentations, and used the moneys for his personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the sentence.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The defendant abused his friends and his ties to the South Florida community to enrich himself. When, as in this case, greed becomes the primary business motivator, corruption is sure to follow.”
“Gaston E. Cantens has 5 years to think about how he violated the trust of unsuspecting investors,” said John V. Gillies, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “Our business environment flourishes on a foundation of trust and those who violate that trust must be held accountable for their unscrupulous actions.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also commended the efforts of SEC for their contributions to this investigation and its successful prosecution. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney H. Ron Davidson.