The owner of an Irvine real estate firm was sentenced Monday to more than three years in federal prison for a house-flipping scheme that bilked 25 victims out of about $2 million.
Daniel Benjamin Vazquez Sr., 57, formerly of Ladera Ranch, who pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud in April, apologized to the victims before U.S. District Judge James Selna sentenced him to 41 months in federal prison, the defendant’s attorney, Dean Steward, said.
Selna postponed any restitution order for a couple of months as Steward said he has challenged the government’s estimate of losses to victims, Steward said.
Prosecutors advocated for 51 months and Steward argued for 37 months.
Vazquez used investors’ money to renovate his home, buy luxury cars and sports club memberships and make credit card payments, in addition to pocketing some of the money, the FBI reported when he was arrested in July of last year.
In August, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney ordered Vazquez and his Hoplon Financial Group to pay $297,516.83 to satisfy a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint.
Vazquez was arrested by Tustin police in June on unrelated drug charges, and the FBI picked him up when he was released from the Orange County Jail, according to the federal agency.
Beginning in at least 2010 and continuing through 2014, Vazquez sold investments to individuals who were told their money would be used to purchase, renovate and sell properties in order to generate returns, and that they would be paid returns on their investments no less frequently than twice a year, according to the indictment.
Vazquez falsely told investors that his own compensation would be limited to small percentages of investor capital and return on investment, and other nominal fees, and that he would pay expenses and overhead, according to the indictment, which alleged more than $917,000 “in net proceeds from the sale of the properties by (one of his other companies) and defendant Vazquez was never distributed to investors, but was instead diverted to Hoplon and defendant Vazquez.”
Most of his victims were investing retirement funds, according to the FBI.
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