A Yorba Linda man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of ripping off six victims in various confidence and extortion scams, including an attorney who was so convinced the defendant had Mafia ties that he forked over about $100,000, a prosecutor said.
Angelo Castelo, 60, is also accused of victimizing two Anaheim residents and three Yorba Linda residents in various investment schemes, and according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Lynda Fernandez.
Attorney Nathan Gjesdal, who lives in the same neighborhood as the defendant, agreed to represent associates of Castelo in a criminal case, according to Fernandez.
“The defendant tells the lawyer he’s a captain in the New York Mafia crime syndicate and that one of their members in L.A. is being charged with homicide and they need a criminal defense attorney that’s removed from the Mafia for appearance’s sake, but the Mafia will be paying (him),” Fernandez alleged.
“The defendant (then) says, ‘I’m going up to L.A. to make a $5,000 down- payment to the crew and I’m about 800 dollars short, can you front me the 800 dollars?”‘ Fernandez alleged.
When the two met again at a strip club, Castelo told the attorney that he invested the $800 on an insider-trading tip from the Mafia, and “now the victim is tied to the mob,” Fernandez alleged.
The defendant then allegedly extorted payments of up to $5,000 at a time from the attorney, amounting to about $100,000 before Gjesdal went to the authorities, Fernandez said.
Another victim was involved in a collision in which the defendant’s girlfriend was a witness, Fernandez said. The girlfriend befriended the victim, who mentioned her son-in-law had recently died and she was having financial problems, the prosecutor said.
A short time later, the defendant called the victim offering help, Fernandez said. Castelo allegedly told the woman about an investment “opportunity” that was closed to new investors, but said she could still participate if she gave him some cash that he could use to invest on her behalf, Fernandez said.
As the two were meeting in a bank parking lot to make one of what ended up being several payments to the defendant, she resisted, Fernandez said. Castelo allegedly grabbed her by the hand and said he had a gun in his car, then ordered her into the bank to make a withdrawal for him, Fernandez said.
On another occasion, Castelo allegedly told the woman he knew where she lived and that children the age of her grandchildren had been known to fall out of windows, Fernandez alleged.
Castelo is charged with six counts of fraud, two counts each of criminal threats and extortion, and one count each of first-degree burglary, first- degree robbery and theft with a prior conviction — all felonies.
He’s also accused of committing a crime while out on bail for another alleged crime — a pending case involving a gold coin scam in Orange County, Fernandez said.
— City News Service
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