An Orange County businessman was sentenced Thursday in Los Angeles to 15 months behind bars for running a scheme that defrauded investors who believed he represented an Indonesian gold and platinum deal that promised $1 million returns on $1,000 investments.
Alexander Zbicki, 48, of Newport Beach was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin to serve three years of supervised release after leaving prison and pay $531,000 in restitution to the victims.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Waier had recommended a 27-month term, while the defense argued for time already served — about five months.
“We have to send a message that when you take a half-million dollars, it’s (worth) more than five months,” the prosecutor told the court, reminding the judge that in the five years since he was charged, Zbicki has “not paid back one dime — and he promised to pay them back.”
Zbicki pleaded guilty in July to a single federal count of wire fraud. He was charged in 2014 with eight felony charges. Prosecutors said he conned investors from early 2009 to early 2011 with a purported gold and platinum deal that would result in “billions of dollars in profits,” according to the indictment.
Investors from Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Mobile, Ala., wired amounts ranging from $25,000 to $450,000, prosecutors said. Zbicki told victims that his clients included the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, the United Nations, the Prince of Dubai and the Vatican, and that the deal had the support of the FBI, the CIA and Interpol, according to the indictment.
Zbicki failed to disclose to investors that he had been previously convicted of felony grand theft and a misdemeanor for writing checks with insufficient funds, according to the indictment.
His attorney, Humberto Diaz, told the court that Zbicki suffers from excessive optimism.
“He’s always thinking that success is going to come to him tomorrow,” Diaz said.
“I’m extremely sorry I created this huge loss,” Zbicki told the court. “Every victim has a story and it’s beyond just monetary. I want to make them whole.”
The judge ordered him to surrender Jan. 6 to begin his prison sentence.