Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

An Irvine-based attorney pleaded guilty Thursday in a $52 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 1,000 people.

Robert Waldman, 54, is expected to be sentenced to six months of home confinement, according to the plea deal he struck with the state Attorney General’s Office. Waldman pleaded guilty to knowingly selling an unregistered security, and several other felony counts were dropped.

Co-defendants Jonathan Carman, 51, and Scott Yard, 53, pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple felonies, including grand theft and making an untrue statement related to a purchase or sale.

Carman, scheduled for sentencing Feb. 20, is expected to get 12 years in prison, and Yard, scheduled for sentencing March 9, is expected to get six years, according to Assistant Attorney General Michael Whitaker.

Lambert Vandertuig, 56, pleaded guilty Nov. 20 to more than 80 felonies, acknowledged multiple sentencing enhancements for fraud and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals gave Vandertuig credit for 1,342 days behind bars.

Co-defendant Mark Sostak pleaded guilty to two felony counts of making a false statement or omission in a purchase or sale, and prosecutors will not seek more than four years in prison for him when he is sentenced Feb. 20, Whitaker said.

The only remaining defendant, Soren Svendsen, 49, is scheduled to be tried in mid-January.

While working for Irvine-based Carolina Development, the defendants sold $52 million worth of stock  they said they would use to buy land and develop luxury resorts, Whitaker said.

Some land was acquired, but it was left undeveloped, while the defendants spent about $24 million on themselves, according to Whitaker.

The defendants falsely claimed that golfer Arnold Palmer was a partner, Whitaker said.

Some of the victims were senior citizens who invested their retirement funds. To satisfy suspicious investors, the defendants paid some of them returns on their investment with money collected from newer investors, according to Whitaker.

City News Service

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