Los Angeles – LawFuel Legal Announcements – Yesterday afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles, the owner of American Growth Fund, LLC pleaded guilty to wire fraud and the structuring of financial transactions in a scheme that defrauded an investor of approximately $1.8 million.
Deandre Marcel Lawrence, of Los Angeles, who was indicted earlier this year on charges related to his fraud scheme, entered his guilty plea before United States District Judge Gary A. Feess.
According to court papers, Lawrence admitted that he contacted one investor and falsely represented that he was an investment advisor. Beginning in late 2002 and continuing into 2007, Lawrence induced his victim to send him money by telling the victim that he had successfully invested the victim’s money and had already earned large profits when he had not done so. Lawrence made many false representations to his victim, including claiming that he was a licensed Wall Street stock broker working for well known firms such as Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley and had over 100 clients investing with him. Further, Lawrence misrepresented to his victim that he had made over $100 million in profits investing the victim’s money when, in truth, Lawrence used virtually all of the money he received from the victim for personal purposes, including gambling in casinos.
In an effort to avoid the cash transaction reporting requirements that banks are required to abide by, Lawrence structured cash withdrawals, in amounts less than $10,000, from the American Growth Fund, LLC bank account he controlled. Specifically, in September 2007, Lawrence structured a series of cash withdrawals to avoid these transaction reporting requirements. Further, Lawrence admitted that he withdrew virtually all of his victim’s money sent to him in a similar fashion from the American Growth Fund, LLC account.
“Individuals who intentionally make false representations to others for the purpose of gaining their trust to invest money with them, risk prosecution,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge, Catherine D. Tucker, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office. “IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to aggressively work investment fraud investigations in an effort stop deceitful individuals from preying on unwitting victims for their own financial benefit.”
When sentenced for his crimes, Lawrence faces a statutory maximum 30 years in prison and fines totaling $750,000. Judge Feess set Lawrence’s sentencing date for December 15, 2008.
The investigation of Lawrence was conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Los Angeles.