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Justice News

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

East Bay Residents Sentenced In Scheme To Sell Fraudulent Financial Instruments

Defendants Ordered to Pay Restitution to Victims

OAKLAND - Sharon Ringgenberg was sentenced to 15 months in prison for her role in a scheme to commit wire fraud, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter.  In addition to the prison term, Ringgenberg was ordered to pay restitution totaling $705,000 to victims of the scheme.  The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Jon S. Tigar, U.S. District Judge on December 6, 2019.  

Ringgenberg, 70, of Martinez, Calif., pleaded guilty to the charge on August 10, 2018.  According to her plea agreement, Ringgenberg conspired with codefendants Craig Scott, 53, of Oakland, and Kenneth Taylor, 57, of San Ramon, to commit wire fraud.  In her plea agreement, Ringgenberg admitted that from November 2008 through May 2012, she and Taylor sold fraudulent standby letters of credit and proof of funds statements to clients of a company called Success Bullion USA, LLC (“Success Bullion”).  These financial instruments were fraudulent because they reported false client creditworthiness and client balances that exceeded Success Bullion’s assets.  Success Bullion falsely purported to be a subsidiary of a large Hong Kong financial institution.  Ringgenberg acted as an officer of Success Bullion and signed and provided false documents on behalf of the company.  Success Bullion used brokers, including co-defendant Scott, to find clients.  

A federal grand jury indicted Taylor, Ringgenberg, and Scott on April 13, 2017, charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, two counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and two counts of subscribing to a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).

In addition to the prison term and restitution, Judge Tigar ordered Ringgenberg to serve a three-year period of supervised release and forfeit $295,000 in additional proceeds that she received from the scheme.  

Scott pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme on August 12, 2018.  In his plea agreement, Scott admitted that from 2009 to May 2012, he was a broker for Success Bullion.  Scott solicited customers and acted as a broker for fraudulent standby letters of credit and proof of funds statements sold by Success Bullion. Judge Tigar sentenced him on December 6, 2019, to five years of probation with a year of home confinement and ordered him to pay restitution of $527,575 to victims of the scheme, to forfeit $20,000 in additional proceeds he received from the scheme, and not to sell securities as part of his term of probation.

Similarly, Taylor, pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme on March 1, 2019.  Judge Tigar sentenced him on October 18, 2019, to 36 months of prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to him to forfeit $3,436,002 and to pay $1,100,774 to the Internal Revenue Service and $90,000 to a victim of the fraud scheme.  Before handing down the three-year sentence against Taylor, Judge Jon S. Tigar found that “Mr. Taylor enriched himself greatly, and he did so out of greed [. . . t]hat’s all,” and that “[t]his was a sophisticated, day-in-day-out fraud scheme that lasted for many years.”      

Assistant United States Attorney Colin Sampson and Tax Division Trial Attorney Charles A. O’Reilly are prosecuting the case.  This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

Updated December 10, 2019