LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – An Orange County man has pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud count, admitting that he ran a real estate investment scam that lured victims with bogus claims of large returns on investments in commercial real estate developments.
Barry Landreth, 37, formerly of Coto de Caza, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to the felony charge that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison.
By pleading guilty, Landreth, a former adjunct professor of real estate finance at the University of Southern California, admitted that he ran two schemes involving purported real estate development projects in Chicago and Las Vegas. Through his company, Webster Realty Investors, Landreth offered short-term, high-yield real estate investments in two projects that he called Discovery Chicago LLC and Discovery Las Vegas LLC. Landreth induced victims, including wealthy investors and several USC students, to invest with promises that their money would be used in one of the two projects. In fact, Landreth did not use the victims’ money for either project, but instead spent the money on business expenses for Webster Realty Investors and on personal expenses.
As part of the scheme, Landreth falsely represented to victims that the projects would provide 190 percent returns on investments within 30 days to 45 days.
In court documents, the government presented evidence that Landreth used victims’ money to buy a Cadillac Escalade and several show jumping horses.
Landreth pleaded guilty in Santa Ana federal court before United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on June 4.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the California Department of Corporations.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Staples
Release No. 07-037