A California man who pleaded guilty to a Ponzi scheme on Monday will have to forfeit a collection of baseball cards valued at more than $31,000 as part of a plea agreement.
Seth Adam Depiano, 36, of Clovis, admitted to mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a real estate investment scam, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Depiano operated a scheme that lured real estate investors to give money to Depiano and the businesses he controlled. Charging documents state that Depiano often had no authority to purchase or sell the properties and misled investors with fraudulent documents misrepresenting the properties’ ownership. Some of the properties Depiano marketed to investors did not even exist.
Prosecutors say he frequently used the investors’ money to pay his personal expenses, fund his gambling activities, and finance the settlement of the investors’ civil lawsuits.
In his plea agreement, Depiano admitted to defrauding investors of approximately $24 million dollars and agreed to pay restitution to approximately 28 investors. Depiano also agreed to forfeit more than $700,000 seized from several bank accounts, cash he had on hand and the card collection.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI, which seized 933 cards from Depiano in September of last year, two months after he was arrested. An inventory of what was in the collection wasn’t revealed. Seized collectibles and other property are often sold through U.S. Marshals Service auctions.
Depiano is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for the mail fraud and wire fraud charges, ten years in prison for money laundering, and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.