LAS VEGAS -- A former Henderson loan officer who took money from more than 30 victims for a high yield investment scheme involving the foreign currency exchange market pleaded guilty Monday to fraud and money laundering charges, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.
Kamalu Gonzales, 47, pleaded before U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro to two counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. Gonzales is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 14, and he faces up to 30 years in prison. He also faces a $1 million fine on each of the fraud charges and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the money laundering charges.
According to court records, Gonzales told individuals in 2007 and 2008 that he was a successful investor and trader in the foreign currency exchange market. He recruited individuals to invest with him in the market, telling them that they could earn high rates of return in a short period of time. Some victims wired money to Gonzales, and others borrowed money from their retirement fund or line of credit, or refinanced their houses to invest with him.
Gonzales worked in 2007 as a loan officer for Meridias Capital in Henderson. He helped customers refinance their homes, but he also placed false information in the loan applications so the individuals could obtain refinancing and cash to which they would not have otherwise been entitled. Gonzales convinced these individuals to give him some of the cash they received from refinancing for his investment fraud scheme. None of the victims agreed to pay Gonzales any commissions or fees, or agreed that he could use their investments for personal or business expenses or to pay other investors.
Gonzales lied to the victims repeatedly and told them their investments were doing well. As a result, some victims gave Gonzales more money to invest. Gonzales also made payments to some victims using money he received from others.
Gonzales received roughly $1 million from the victims, and pocketed an estimated $410,000 for his own purposes.
Gonzales is free on a personal recognizance bond pending sentencing.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Newman and Kimberly Frayn.