San Diego Woman Behind $400M Ponzi Scheme Gets 15-Year Prison Sentence
By Rebekah Gonzalez
April 1, 2021
In June 2020, a prominent San Diego "businesswoman" Gina Champion-Cain pleaded guilty to securities fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction for defrauding investors out of $400 million with a liquor-license loan funding program.
"During the hearing, several victims spoke to the judge," said Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Galvin. "Nearly 500 victims poured over $350 million into Champion-Cain's sham investment scheme. Ms. Champion-Cain did not use the money to finance liquor-license transactions, as she told investors. Rather, she used tens of millions of dollars to line her own pockets and to support her failing Patio restaurants and other retail businesses."
Champion-Cain was immediately taken into custody after the hearing at the federal building on Front Street in downtown San Diego.
In a news conference following the sentence, it was revealed that the judge handed down a harsher sentence than what was recommended by prosecutors.
"We recommended 130 months," Assistant US Attorney Aaron Arnzen told the media. "The judge handed down a 180-month sentence. The judge did a great job of collecting information not just from the prosecution but also from the defense and from the victims. When we investigate a crime, we try to gather as much information as we can, but in this case, the judge actually had more information than we did."
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