San Fernando Valley Woman Sentenced to 5 Years in a Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Ponzi Scheme
LOS ANGELES - A San Fernando Valley real estate agent and self-described real estate investor was sentenced yesterday afternoon to five years in federal prison and remanded into custody for her offenses.
Celia Gallardo, 42, of North Hills, was sentenced in the fraud case by United States District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Pregerson described the fraud as a "pure rip off" and cited the need for punishment as a deterrent. He stated that the victims present at the sentencing had the right to see Gallardo be remanded into custody.
Gallardo pleaded guilty in October 2012 to wire fraud, admitting in court that that she defrauded investors from September 2007 through September 2008 by falsely promising them high rates of return for investing in her purported real estate program.
Gallardo admitted that instead of investing victims' money in real estate transactions, she spent the vast majority of the money on house payments, foreign luxury travel, cash withdrawals, and Ponzi-syle payments to earlier investors.
Judge Pregerson also ordered Gallardo to pay $2.389 million in restitution to dozens of victims, who primarily resided in California and Arizona.
The case against Gallardo resulted from an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Release No. 13-091
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