Woman gets nearly 5 years for Ponzi scheme

DOWNEY -- Lauren Baumann, the Downey woman who pleaded guilty last year to operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of almost $1 million, was sentenced Monday to nearly five years in prison, authorities said.United States District Judge Josephine S. Tucker sentenced Baumann to 57 months in prison. The judge also ordered Baumann to pay restitution to her victims. Baumann, 43, owned Stewardship Estates LLC. She admitted in court last October that she solicited investments that were supposed to be used for Christian rock concerts. In some cases, Baumann told investors their money would be used to purchase, refurbish and resell homes. Instead, Baumann used most of the money to pay earlier investors, who thought they were receiving legitimate profits from Baumann's ventures, officials said. She also used investor money to pay nearly $10,000 in monthly rent for the historic Rives Mansion on Paramount Boulevard and to send her children to private school. Authorities said more than two dozen victims in Los Angeles and Orange counties were defrauded by Baumann. Baumann was previously convicted of securities fraud in 1999. She is scheduled to begin serving her sentence by April 2.

********** Published: March 08, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 47