SANTA ANA, Calif.—A 39-year-old man pleaded not guilty Dec. 20 in an alleged investment scheme that defrauded an elderly Laguna Beach man out of $1.4 million.
Investigators alleged in court papers that Antonio Michele Velasco conspired with Thomas Martin Green in an “elaborate fraud scheme to entice [the victim] into an illusory investment of purchasing defaulted bail bonds.”
The defendants “on numerous occasions … intentionally misled [the victim] into believing his consistent investments secured him collateral they obtained from defaulted bail bonds,” investigators alleged. “The victim’s frail, elderly and easily misled.”
The victim lost about $1.4 million, investigators alleged.
The two defendants were charged Oct. 27, and Velasco was arrested Saturday.
Velasco is charged with 28 counts of grand theft, a count of theft from an elderly adult, 38 counts of money laundering, all felonies, with a sentencing enhancement for aggravated white-collar crime exceeding $500,000.
He pleaded not guilty in his arraignment in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana and was ordered to return to court Jan. 4 for a pretrial hearing in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
Green, 63, has not been taken into custody. He is charged with 28 counts of grand theft, a count of theft from an elder exceeding $950, and conspiracy to defraud another of property with a sentencing enhancement for aggravated white-collar crime exceeding $500,000.