San Diego restaurateur convicted of ponzi scheme
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Longtime San Diego business executive and restaurateur Gina Champion-Cain was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for her role in a multi-year Ponzi scheme, among other charges.
Champion-Cain pleaded guilty on July 22, 2020 to raising more than $ 350 million from investors with the promise of giving loans to business owners trying to get liquor licenses in California, only to use that money with co-conspirators to pay off others whose investments would soon be bought out and support his businesses that “failed or had negative cash flow” and lifestyle expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by Southern California District Acting Randy Grossman.
Grossman’s office said those lifestyle expenses included “his own salary, seating at professional baseball and football games, credit card bills, automobiles, jewelry and other personal items. personal luxury “.
Investigators added that Champion-Cain was upholding the scheme, “fabricating documents, forging signatures and telling lies to investors via fake email accounts so that when investors tried to verify their investments with third parties, they often really communicated. with the defendant or his employees.
Grossman’s office said that as part of his plea deal, Champion-Cain also admitted to obstructing justice by hiding and destroying evidence from federal investigators:
“From July 2019, after learning about the investigations carried out by federal agencies, she asked her employees to destroy the emails; not to produce electronic calendars, messaging and trash files; to alter accounting records to hide the fact that investor funds were used to pay her. Personal expenses and shred paper files. Champion-Cain even attempted to solicit a $ 150 million investment in the hopes that she could use the funds to hide her scheme. Despite his efforts, investigators were able to recover a significant volume of evidence Champion -Cain attempted to destroy. “
US District Judge Larry Alan Burns told Champion-Cain that the “monumental crime” showed “enormous callousness” and “extreme greed” upon his conviction.
“It is an appropriate sentence for an accused who has caused significant harm to hundreds of victims,” Grossman said. “This Ponzi scheme has cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars while the accused lived in luxury. We will continue our aggressive efforts to prosecute those who defraud, deceive and financially devastate the victims.”
Crispin Torres, the former CFO of one of Champion-Cain’s companies, was sentenced on March 23 to four years in prison for using funds received from investors to support Champion-Cain’s other activities.