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Justice News

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hawaii Resident Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud In Connection With Scheme To Defraud East Bay Businesses

Defendant Admits Duping Victims Out Of More Than $290,000

OAKLAND – Rodney Ticanis Sparrow pleaded guilty today to committing wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud business owners of fees for promised business loans announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The plea was accepted by the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., U.S. District Judge.

According to the plea agreement, Sparrow, 38, of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, admitted that between 2012 and 2015, he implemented an “Advanced Fee” scheme in which he used fake identities of supposed New York-based Goldman Sachs bankers to convince his victims to pay fees in exchange for business improvement loans.  Sparrow admitted he never had the means nor intent to provide the loans.

While living in Hawaii, Sparrow pretended to be a New York banker, using Goldman Sachs and “GS Financial Co.” in email correspondence with victims.  He never used his own name and instead used the names of “Brad Schuller” and “Chad Edwardson,” two persons that did not exist.  Sparrow promised to process and provide business loans in exchange for substantial fees.  In emails and telephone calls with his victims, Sparrow directed his victims to pay the fees by wire and other electronic means into a Bank of America account he represented was a business account affiliated with Goldman Sachs.  In truth, Sparrow controlled the Bank of America account, he never worked for Goldman Sachs, and he never worked in the financial industry in any capacity.  Pursuant to the scheme, Sparrow defrauded at least ten victims into paying him approximately $298,350 in bogus advanced fees.

On March 26, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Sparrow, charging him with ten counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.  Sparrow pleaded guilty to one count.  If Sparrow complies with his plea agreement, the remaining counts will be dismissed at sentencing.

Judge Gilliam has scheduled Sparrow’s sentencing for March 9, 2020.  The maximum statutory penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release.  Additional fines, forfeitures, and special assessments also may be imposed, however, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant United States Attorney Thomas R. Green is prosecuting this case with the assistance of Katie Turner.  This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Financial Fraud
Updated November 19, 2019