Clovis man pleads guilty to running $24 million Ponzi scheme

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Department of Justice announced that 36-year-old Clovis resident Seth Depiano pleaded guilty on Monday to mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a real estate Ponzi scheme.

According to the plea deal, Depiano agreed to pay restitution to approximately 28 investors. He also agreed to forfeit more than $700,000 in seized cash as well as his baseball card collection valued at more than $31 thousand.

According to court documents, Depiano operated a scheme that lured real estate investors to give money to several businesses that he owned -- including The Rental Group, US Funding, Home Services LLC, and Draymond Homes. He would then promise investors that he would use their money to purchase residential properties, then rent them out or fix them up and resell them.

However, court documents charge Depiano often didn't have the authority to purchase or sell the properties and he misled investors with fraudulent documents -- including for some properties that did not exist.

The Department of Justice says that Depiano used investor's money to pay his personal expenses, fund his gambling habits, and settle lawsuits. He also paid investors purported rental income that was actually money from other investors.

Depiano is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29th. He faces prison time and a $250,000 thousand fine.
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