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California man receives lowered sentence in Ponzi scheme case

No one wants to be the target of an investigation into suspected federal crimes, but that is exactly what is happening to employees of a California based wealth management company. Federal authorities raided the company's offices and its founder's home for allegedly fleecing its investors and lenders. The company allegedly perpetrated a Ponzi scheme that included a property-flipping scheme. The company's founder denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

While the company's founder, who is the primary subject of the investigation, has not been charged yet, one of the company's top employees has. The man was in Sacramento federal court recently for conspiring to grow marijuana, and as most know, federal drug charges usually carry hefty penalties. For this man, however, the court handed out a rather light sentence. The man received only 4.5 months, which he will begin serving in three months

The sentence, for a crime that allegedly stemmed from the company's mortgage fraud, was likely the result of a plea deal worked out between the man, his attorney and federal prosecutors.

The high-ranking employee was allegedly using empty properties the company acquired to grow pot throughout Northern California. In exchange for the shortened prison time, the former employee agreed to work with federal government investigators in their investigation into company's leader.

Negotiating a favorable plea agreement is a skill in and of itself. There are a number of factors that come into play when such deals are brokered between counselors and they rely heavily on the specific facts of each different case.

In some instances, a plea deal may indeed be the best option while on trial, yet not all situations are the same. Depending on the facts of each individual case, attorneys may advise defendants to pursue other options in order to preserve their rights and see that the trial has a fair outcome.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Pot grower gets light sentence to aid probe of alleged fraud mastermind Lee Loomis," Denny Walsh, June 30, 2012

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