DOWNEY - Juan Rangel, the Downey resident charged with operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded mostly Hispanic investors out of nearly $30 million, was sentenced Monday to 22 years in prison.Rangel pleaded guilty last October to charges of mail fraud and money laundering. He is already in prison after a conviction for bribing a bank official. Under a plea deal, prosecutors recommended a 15-year prison sentence for Rangel, but Judge S. James Otero, after hearing victim statements, handed down a sentence of 22 years. Otero also recommended that Rangel, a 47-year-old Mexican national, be deported when his sentence is complete. Prosecutors said Rangel operated Financial Plus Investments and used Spanish-language magazines and newspapers to recruit investors while promising guaranteed annual returns of 60 percent. Instead of investing the money, prosecutors said Rangel used the funds to purchase a $2.5 million north Downey home, lease expensive cars and purchase cocaine. Among the victims was Baldwin Park resident Patricia Arreola, who said she gave Rangel the $50,000 she received from the government following the death of her son, a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq.
********** Published: February 17, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 44