Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

An Orange County man who operated a Ponzi scheme that bilked victims out of more than $15 million with false promises of large returns from investments in debt obligations and distressed real estate was sentenced Monday to nearly five years in federal prison.

William Donnelly Yotty, 69, who was living in Dana Point’s Monarch Beach when he was arrested in May 2014, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow.

“It is important that people who engage in business frauds face substantial sentences,” Morrow said, noting that Yotty’s victims included the elderly, teachers and law enforcement officers, many of whom earned modest salaries or lost their retirement savings.

The daughter of an elderly couple told the judge that her parents lost $250,000 in the fraud, they were forced to move out of their home, and her 71- year-old father could not afford to retire.

Yotty, who has been held without bond since his arrest, pleaded guilty in August in Los Angeles federal court to mail fraud and wire fraud charges.

When he pleaded guilty, Yotty admitted that he ran several companies that offered bogus investments in corporate debt obligations and in distressed real estate that he and his salespeople said could be “flipped” for substantial profit.

Prosecutors said Yotty raised more than $17 million from at least 240 victim-investors based on false representations.

— Wire reports 

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