RIVERSIDE, California – A former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration has been arrested on federal fraud charges for allegedly posing as an active FBI agent and helping a man who posed as a former federal prosecutor to defraud a man who enlisted their help in recovering money lost in two fraudulent investment schemes.
David Garcia Herrera, 70, of Torrance, was arrested last night at Los Angeles International Airport by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Herrera, who is expected to be arraigned on a nine-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside, was arrested as he returned from a trip abroad.
Herrera is one of two defendants charged in an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on June 5 with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud and one count making false statements in a passport application.
The second defendant in the case – Jerome Arthur Whittington, 65, of La Quinta, who allegedly posed as a successful attorney and told at least one victim that he was a former federal prosecutor – is currently in custody after being indicted in June 2014 in relation to two other fraud schemes.
In the indictment filed last week, Whittington and Herrera allegedly joined forces to defraud two victims, one of whom lost money in fraudulent investments, and another who was trying to obtain immigration benefits for his wife.
In the first scheme, Whittington posed as an attorney and Herrera pretended to be an FBI special agent as they falsely promised the victim they could help him recover losses in fraudulent schemes related to two companies, Pacific Property Assets and Medical Capital Corporation. Whittington and Herrera told the victim that they were able to seize assets from the two fraudulent companies, but the victim needed to provide money that would be used to “post bonds” that were required prior to seizing the assets. After Whittington claimed that he had obtained a $4 million judgment, Whittington told the victim that representatives from the companies and other victims were very angry and that he should leave the country to avoid confrontations and harassment.
The victim paid Whittington approximately $290,000 for help in recovering his losses, but Whittington simply used the money for his own person expenses, which included making payments to other victims of his scheme and to Herrera.
In the second scheme discussed in this month’s indictment, Whittington also posed as an attorney. Herrera told the victim in this second scheme that he was an investigator with the FBI and that Whittington was a former federal prosecutor. Based on these and other false statements and promises, the victim retained Whittington and paid approximately $8,500 for assistance in his wife’s immigration case – help that was never provided.
Whittington and Herrera are also charged with making false statements on a passport application. In relation to this count, Herrera allegedly falsely stated that he had been a personal friend of Whittington for seven years.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
If they are convicted of the nine counts in the indictments, both defendants would face a statutory maximum penalty of 170 years in federal prison.
Whittington also faces two counts of wire fraud contained in an indictment filed just over one year ago. That indictment alleges that Whittington used lies and misrepresentations – including pretending to be an attorney – to convince one victim to invest in a real estate deal and another to put money into a business venture involving an Internet browser, both of which were fraudulent. As a result of the two schemes outlined in this indictment, the two victims lost approximately $165,000.
The cases against Whittington and Herrera are part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office in Bossier City, Louisiana, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department have provided substantial assistance.
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