United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
Thursday, February 9, 2012
California and Arizona Residents Charged in $1.5 Million Ponzi Scheme
FRESNO, Calif. – A federal grand jury returned an 18-count indictment against Bonnie Lynn Recinos, aka Bonnie Farr, 51, of Mesa, Ariz., and Obdulia Julie Leon, aka Julie Ochoa, 44, of Visalia, Calif., charging them with conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud for an investment fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today.
According to the indictment, between April 2006 and August 2009, Recinos, who was working as the managing member of Farr and Associates and Farr Financial Group, conspired with Leon and others to devise and execute a scheme to defraud investors. In most instances, Recinos and Leon offered individuals an opportunity to purportedly invest in a real estate business project in Arizona. They said that investments were secured by Farr assets and would typically earn three to five percent interest per month. Instead of investing the funds they received as promised, Recinos and Leon used the money for their own business and personal expenses.
The indictment also alleges that Recinos and Leon used new investors’ money to pay interest amounts owed to previous investors and sent the investors false account statements purporting to show the earnings of their investments. As a result of the scheme to defraud, Recinos and Leon obtained at least $1.5 million from investors, many of whom lost their entire life savings and retirement.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michele Thielhorn and Henry Carbajal III are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Recinos and Leon face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count, a $250,000 fine and up to three years supervised release. The actual sentence, if convicted, 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.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This law enforcement action is part of the work being done by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. One component of the FFETF is the national Securities Fraud Working Group, which is tasked with combating investment fraud schemes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.