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Five years for ponzi scheme

Former SCV businesswoman who defrauded dozens in real estate scam is sentenced to federal prison

Posted: July 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.

A former Santa Clarita Valley businesswoman who defrauded dozens of people out of millions of dollars in a real estate scheme has been sentenced to five years in federal prison, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Celia Gallardo, a 42-year-old North Hills resident, was sentenced Monday in United States District Court by Judge Dean D. Pregerson, who referred to her scheme as a “pure rip-off” and said it was necessary to use the punishment as a deterrent.

In addition to the prison time, Gallardo has been ordered to pay $2.389 million in restitution to the dozens of victims she defrauded, the majority of whom resided in California and Arizona.

Gallardo pleaded guilty last October to wire fraud, admitting she had used a Ponzi-style scheme to steal millions of dollars from investors by falsely promising them high rates of return for investing in her purported real estate program from September 2007 to September 2008.

Gallardo admitted she instead took the money she was supposed to invest and used it on trips abroad, house payments, cash withdrawals and payments to earlier investors.

At the time she was arrested, Gallardo owned several businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley, including Gold Credit Investments in Valencia.

Both Gold Credit Investments and the Newhall home where she allegedly lived were raided by detectives in September 2008 as part of the investigation against her.



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