An Orange County man has been sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison …

An Orange County man has been sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison for operating a fraud scheme that swindled small businesses across the country by falsely promising to secure low-interest equipment lease financing and charging victims thousands of dollars in advance fees.

Richard Allen La Bianco, 34, of Laguna Beach, was sentenced late Monday to 30 months in federal prison. In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Gary L. Taylor ordered La Bianco to pay $779,038 in restitution.

On July 14, 2003, LaBianco pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions with criminally derived proceeds arising out of the scheme.

La Bianco owned and managed a company called Paramount Pacific Funding Group (PPFG) of San Clemente. PPFG solicited small businesses across the country by promoting PPFG as a national leader in equipment lease financing. La Bianco then promised victims who sent credit applications that PPFG would deliver equipment lease financing with favorable terms, including low interest rates, if they paid up-front deposits that ranged from $1,000 to $40,000. La Bianco promised victims that the deposit would be fully refunded if PPFG did not deliver the promised lease financing.

Despite La Bianco’s promises, he knew PPFG would not secure the promised financing terms. La Bianco also knew that PPFG would not return the victims’ deposits when PPFG failed to obtain lease financing on the promised terms. Instead, La Bianco retained the money for his own use.

This successful prosecution is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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