Gina Champion-Cain, San Diego Business Owner, Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Massive Ponzi Scheme and Obstructing Justice | USAO-SDCA

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Assistant US Attorney Aaron P. Arnzen (619) 546-8384 and Andrew J. Galvin (619) 546-9721

SUMMARY OF THE PRESS RELEASE – March 31, 2021

SAN DIEGO – Longtime San Diego business owner, restaurateur and real estate mogul Gina Champion-Cain was sentenced in federal court to 15 years in prison today for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme years and hampered justice by hiding and destroying evidence from federal investigators.

When she pleaded guilty on July 22, 2020, Champion-Cain admitted to raising more than $ 350 million from investors by promising to use their money to provide loans to business owners trying to acquire assets. California liquor license. Investors were unaware, however, that Champion-Cain was breaking his promise.

Instead, according to court records, Champion-Cain and his co-conspirators used funds from new investors to pay off others whose investments would soon be redeemed, and embezzled funds to support his other businesses and lifestyle. Champion-Cain and his co-conspirators maintained the scheme, among other things, forging documents, forging signatures, and telling lies to investors through fake email accounts so that when investors attempted to verify their investments with third parties, they were often really communicating with the defendant or his employees.

On handing down the sentence, US District Judge Larry Alan Burns told the accused his scheme demonstrated “incredible callousness” and “extreme greed” in committing a “monumental crime”.

“It is an appropriate sentence for an accused who has caused significant harm to hundreds of victims,” ​​Interim US Attorney Randy Grossman said. “This Ponzi scheme cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars while the accused lived in luxury. We will continue our aggressive efforts to prosecute those who defraud, deceive and wreak financial havoc on victims. “

“For years, Gina Champion-Cain has used her status in the community to lie, cheat and steal over $ 350 million, all from investors who trusted her with their hard-earned money and, in many case, their life savings. ”said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “Although the victims suffered greatly from the accused’s betrayal, we hope today’s sentence will end as they see Champion-Cain being held responsible for the damage she caused. ‘warning that the FBI is committed to protecting the community from criminals, like Champion-Cain, who commit investment fraud. “

Crispin Torres, the former CFO of one of Champion-Cain’s companies, was sentenced on March 23, 2021 to four years in prison for using funds received from investors to support Champion-Cain’s other activities.

Throughout its program, Champion-Cain made agreed payments to its investors to keep them believing that the supposed investment program was legitimate, according to court documents. This, in turn, helped her perpetuate the scheme and recruit more victims. Champion-Cain has also stolen tens of millions of dollars in investor funds to keep his other businesses afloat and get rich. Since many of Champion-Cain’s restaurants and retail businesses were going bankrupt or had negative cash flow, they needed funds to cover their expenses. Time and time again, Champion-Cain and Torres have worked together to steal millions of dollars in investor funds to cover the shortfall. Champion-Cain has also spent millions of investor dollars to pay for his own salary, seats for professional baseball and football games, credit card bills, automobiles, jewelry, and other luxuries. personal.

Champion-Cain’s plea deal also describes his efforts to obstruct federal investigations into the scheme. From July 2019, after learning about investigations by federal agencies, she asked her employees to destroy the emails; not to produce electronic calendars, messaging and trash files; alter accounting records to hide the fact that investor funds were used to pay for personal expenses; and shred paper files. Champion-Cain even attempted to solicit a $ 150 million investment in the hopes that she could use the funds to hide her scheme. Despite his efforts, investigators were able to recover a significant volume of evidence that Champion-Cain attempted to destroy.

Grossman praised the lead prosecutors in the case, Deputy US Prosecutors Aaron Arnzen and Andrew Galvin, as well as investigators and attorneys from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for their excellent work on this case.

DEFENDANTS

File number 20CR2115-LAB

Gina Champion-Cain Age: 57 San Diego, California

File number 20CR2114-LAB

Crispin Torres Age: 53 National City, California

SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

Securities Fraud, Title 15, USC Sections 77q and 77x (Champion-Cain)

Obstruction of Justice, Title 18, USC Section 1505 (Champion-Cain)

Conspiracy, Title 18, USC Section 371 (Champion-Cain and Torres)

AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation

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