DOWNEY - Downey resident Juan Rangel was formally charged last week with operating a Ponzi scheme and related mortgage scam that allegedly bilked victims in excess of $20 million.Rangel was convicted last year of bribing a Bank of America bank manager to cover up his financial transactions as part of the fraud. He faces 95 years in prison on the charge. A federal grand jury returned an idictment against Rangel, alleging that his company, Financial Plus Investments, promised investors annual returns up to 100%. Rangel allegedly used the money to pay off earlier investors. He also used investor money to make payments on his $3 million home on the 9600 block of Haledon Ave., purchase cocaine and buy a limousine and Lamborghini sports car, prosecutors said. As part of the mortgage fraud, Rangel allegedly targeted Latino homeowners who were at risk of losing their homes, advertising in Spanish-language TV, radio and newspaper ads. Prosecutors allege that Rangel took the titles to the homes and pocketed the equity by falsifying loan documents and selling the properties to straw buyers. Downey resident Pablo Araque, who owns A One Tax Pros in Downey, was also arrested last week as part of the alleged mortgage fraud. Javier Juanchi, vice president of Financial Plus, is facing charges as well. Rangel was arrested in 2008 and has been in custody since. At the time of his arrest, FBI officials said Rangel had wired $1 million to Pachuca, Mexico, where he planned to flee with his family. If convicted on the charges related to the alleged Ponzi scheme and mortgage scam, Rangel could face 232 years in prison.
********** Published: October 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 25