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Ponzi scheme suspect ran three SCV businesses

Accused faces September trial

Posted: July 13, 2012 6:44 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2012 6:44 p.m.
 

 

A San Fernando Valley real estate agent charged with bilking investors in a $1 million-plus Ponzi scheme owned multiple companies that operated out of the Santa Clarita Valley, according to a grand jury indictment.

Celia Gallardo, 42, of North Hills, was arrested Wednesday by FBI special agents and arraigned the same day on 16 counts. She pleaded not guilty.

Gallardo owned and operated three companies in the Santa Clarita Valley, including Gold Credit Investments, Gold Feather Realty and Gallardo Property Management, according to a federal grand jury indictment handed down Tuesday.

In September 2008, more than two dozen detectives executed search warrants at Gold Credit Investments and on the Wayman Street home where Gallardo reportedly lived.

An assistant U.S. attorney said Friday that he wouldn’t comment on why the indictment and arrest occurred nearly four years after Gallardo’s business and residence were originally searched.

“It’s a serious case, obviously, and we take it seriously,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy D. Matz of the major frauds section, adding that his office intends to take the matter to trial.

The indictment accused Gallardo of bilking dozens of investors who put money into a purported real estate investment program to purchase condominiums in other states.

“Defendant Gallardo solicited and caused others to solicit dozens of investors to invest in defendant Gallardo’s purported real estate investment program,” the indictment read.

Gallardo promised high rates of return in a short period of time and assured the safety of the investments with promissory notes, according to a news release from U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

She then spent the money on her home and international travel, withdrawing cash to pay off past investors, according the allegations in the indictment.

Victims lost more than $1 million in the Ponzi scheme, which ran from September 2007 through September 2008, the news release said.

It did not name specific investors but said Gallardo bilked victims in California and Arizona. Matz said several victims lived in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Two victims contacted by The Signal on Friday declined to comment on the case for publication, fearing their comments would hurt the case against Gallardo.

Numerous calls to a number listed for Gallardo in the San Fernando Valley went unanswered Friday. A former property listed online for Gold Credit Investments in Newhall was vacant.

The federal grand jury indictment accuses Gallardo of nine counts of wire fraud and seven counts of mail fraud. If she is convicted of all 16 counts, she could face a maximum sentence of 320 years in federal prison.

Magistrate Judge Carla Woerhle ordered Gallardo released on a $75,000 bond Wednesday. Her trial has been scheduled for Sept. 4.

kjonas@the-signal.com
661-287-5517

 

 

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