Los Angeles – LawFuel Legal Announcements – The owner of American Growth Fund LLC was sentenced this afternoon to spend 78 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess for wire fraud and the structuring of cash transactions related to his scheme that defrauded a victim- investor out of approximately $1.8 million.
In addition to prison, Deandre Marcel Lawrence, of Los Angeles, was ordered by Judge Feess to spend 3 years on supervised release after serving his prison sentence. Further, Lawrence was ordered to pay restitution totaling $1,826,971 to his victim. Lawrence has been in custody since his arrest in August, 2008.
According to court papers, Lawrence admitted that he contacted his victim-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 her that he had successfully invested her 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 had been a licensed Wall Street stock broker who had been employed by firms such as Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley and that he had over 100 clients investing with him. Further, Lawrence misrepresented to his victim that he had made over $100 million in profits investing her 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 follow, 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. 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.
“Mr. Lawrence stole not only his victim’s money, but also her dream of retirement,” said Susan M. Dukes, acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation in Los Angeles. “IRS – Criminal Investigation will continue to strive to identify, investigate, and prosecute investment scheme promoters in an effort to prevent them from preying upon their victims for their own personal financial gain.”
Lawrence began serving his sentence immediately.
The investigation of Lawrence was conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Los Angeles.