Folsom man pleads guilty in $80 million Ponzi scam | Crime
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The president of a Northern California financial firm has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in an investment scam that bilked more than 300 people out of millions of dollars.
Federal prosecutors in Sacramento say Anthony Vassallo and his associates collected about $80 million, returning half to clients to lull them into thinking they were getting a good return on their investment.
The 33-year-old Folsom man pleaded guilty Friday. He could face 16 years in prison under a plea agreement when he is sentenced May 3.
Vassallo also faces mandatory restitution and fines up to twice the value of the victim's losses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Vassallo's Equity Investment Management and Trading Inc. promised investors risk-free, 36 percent annual returns, but he put their money into high-risk investments and personal luxuries, including a $103,000 Lexus for his wife.
Investigators say he met many of his victims through the Mormon church.