Former Fresno-Area Auto Dealer Sentenced to 4.5 Years in Prison for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
FRESNO, Calif. — Seth Adam Depiano, 36, of Clovis, was arrested yesterday in Las Vegas and is charged in a criminal complaint with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Depiano operated a Ponzi scheme that lured real estate investors into giving to him and the businesses he controlled — including The Rental Group, U.S. Funding and Home Services LLC, and Draymond Homes — more than $20 million. Depiano fraudulently promised investors that he would use their money to purchase residential properties and either manage the properties for rental income or arrange for them to be renovated and resold.
According to court documents, in many cases, Depiano promoted the properties to investors with documents that falsely represented high occupancy rates. He oftentimes had no authority to purchase or sell the properties and misled investors with fraudulent documents misrepresenting the properties’ ownership. Some of the properties Depiano marketed to investors did not even exist. Depiano paid investors purported rental income that, in fact, was money other investors had given him for investment purposes.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Baker is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Depiano faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for the mail fraud and wire fraud charges, 10 years in prison for money laundering, and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.