A Newport Beach attorney was sentenced to prison time for his role in “sophisticated loan” fraud schemes that amounted to more than $4 million in Orange and San Diego counties.
Attorney Gino Paul Pietro was sentenced to 30 months collectively for activities that one judge said brought “dishonor and disgrace to the entire legal profession,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Laura Duffy.
“Because members of the bar are given special privileges, they are rightly held to a strict standard of honesty and fair dealing,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Pietro placed his own financial interests ahead of his obligations to his clients, to banks, and to the courts. Attorneys who engage in fraudulent conduct should not be surprised to find themselves in federal court — but this time, as defendants.”
In one scheme, Pietro was convicted of his part in a sophisticated loan fraud scheme where a “straw buyer” would conceal his client’s receipt of more than $4 million in commercial loans. Those loans were backed by the federal government, according to Duffy, and he was sentenced on Monday to 24 months in custody.
U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw sentenced Pietro for defrauding six different defendants and their families, six of whom had entered the U.S. illegally, of $3,000 each. He told those families he was a licensed attorney who could "globally" resolve their criminal and immigration cases and was sentenced to 10 months in custody.
Pietro must repay the $18,000 in restitutions for the San Diego victims of the fraud scheme.
He will appear in court in Santa Ana on Oct. 26, where a judge will determine how much restitution to victims of the loan fraud scheme.
The six victims that had committed crimes by entering the county illegally “didn’t deserve this,” Sabraw said.
Sabraw said the attorney brought “dishonor and disgrace to the entire legal profession.”
He will report to prison on Nov. 27, 2015.