Written by The Business Journal Staff
A Clovis man was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges.
According to court documents, Seth Adam Depiano, 37, operated a $24 million Ponzi scheme to lure real estate investors to give money to him and the businesses he controlled such as The Rental Group, US Funding, and Draymond Homes.
Depiano promised investors that he would use the money they gave him to purchase residential properties and manage the properties for rental income or have them renovated or resold. He would promote properties to investors with falsified documents that represented high occupancy rates and often had no authority to purchase or sell the properties and misled investors with fraudulent documents misrepresenting the properties’ ownership.
Some of the properties marketed to investors didn’t even exist.
Depiano would use investors’ money to pay his personal expenses, gamble, and pay settlements of the civil lawsuits held against him by investors. He also paid investors rental income with money that was actually given to Depiano by other investors for investment purposes.
Depiano admitted to defrauding his investors of about $24 million and was ordered by the court to pay restitution of more than $19.6 million, forfeit over $700,000 seized from bank accounts and cash, and a baseball card collected valued at over $31,000.
The investigation for this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.