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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 1, 2013

Managing Director of Walnut Creek Investment Company Arrested For Defrauding Lenders

OAKLAND, Calif. – Stephen B. Lopez, age 57, of Lafayette, California, was arrested on Thursday, March 28, 2013 on mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

According to the indictment, Lopez was the managing director of Lighthorse Ventures, LLC, a private equity investment company founded in 2000 and located in Walnut Creek, California. Lopez solicited loans on behalf of Lighthorse, drafting and signing promissory notes in which he promised to timely pay the principal and interest of 10% and 12% per year. In furtherance of the fraud, Lopez allegedly produced and distributed brochures that falsely represented Lighthorse’s ownership interests in companies, real properties, and oil wells, and overvalued and misrepresented the entities owned by Lighthorse. When soliciting loans, Lopez allegedly failed to inform the prospective lenders that: (1) he had previously failed to return the principal and interest to the majority of lenders, and (2) he would shortly be required to make a final payment of $600,000 to Lonestar Trust as a result of a civil settlement agreement between Lopez and his former clients.

The money laundering charges allege that Lopez used the fraud profits, that is, money received from lenders on behalf of Lighthorse, to pay a personal debt of $600,000 owed to clients and to make a $50,000 payment to a consultant.

Lopez made his initial appearance on March 29, 2013 before a magistrate judge in San Francisco and was released on a $100,000 bond.

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud is 20 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine or twice the amount of gain or loss, whichever is greater, three years of supervised release, a $100 special assessment, and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for money laundering is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense conduct, three years supervised release, and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 355.

Stephen Corrigan is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting this case with the assistance of Kathleen Turner. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Lopez must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

(Lopez indictment )