Juan Rangel, 45, a Mexican national who ran an investment scheme that targeted the Hispanic community in East Los Angeles, was found guilty of bribing a bank manager to falsify bank records and release holds on millions of dollars in checks that he deposited at the banks. Rangel was convicted of bribing a bank official, conspiring to falsify bank records and two counts of falsifying bank reports.
The evidence presented during a week-long trial in United States District Court in Los Angeles showed that Rangel secretly paid a branch manager at Bank of America to falsify bank documents – documents that he later used to induce lending companies to approve mortgages for “straw borrowers” who were not actually buying the properties. As a result, lending companies approved more than $1 million in loans. Rangel also paid the branch manager for other special services at the bank, including releasing holds that the bank was putting on checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars that he regularly deposited. Rangel also asked the bank manager not to file Currency Transaction Reports with the government, which are required by law for all cash transactions over $10,000.
Rangel owned and operated Financial Plus Investments, which was based in Commerce, California. According to court documents, Financial Plus advertised heavily in Spanish-language media, such as the Rangel-backed magazine “Si,” on radio and television, and Spanish-language flyers. One of the flyers advertised Financial Plus Investment’s programs, promising investors a 100 percent annual return on their investments. The advertisements assured potential investors that investments were protected and explained that their money would be backed by “titles of property.” Former Financial Plus employees, as well as investor victims, estimate that there were between 600 to 800 investors in Financial Plus. The company closed its doors on July 25, 2008.
As a result of the guilty verdict, Rangel faces a statutory maximum sentence of 95 years in federal prison. Rangel is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge George H. King on August 3, 2009.
The case against Rangelis part of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal lnvestigation.