LAS VEGAS -- A former Henderson loan officer Friday learned his guilty pleas to federal fraud and money laundering charges will result in 78 months in prison and more than $830,000 in restitution, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.
Kamalu Gonzales, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, and was permitted to self-report to federal prison by April 17. Gonzales pleaded guilty in August to two counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
"Prosecuting persons who commit financial fraud crimes is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nevada," Bogden said. "Many of these persons target elderly and other vulnerable victims. If someone promises you an investment opportunity with unusually high rates of return, it is likely that the opportunity is fraudulent and that you will lose your money."
Gonzales worked as a loan officer in 2007 for Meridias Capital in Henderson. He helped individuals refinance their homes, but also placed false information in loan applications so the clients could obtain refinancing and cash to which they would not have otherwise been entitled.
Gonzales also told individuals 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 they could earn high rates of return in a short time. Some victims wired money to Gonzales, and others borrowed money from their retirement funds or lines of credit.
He also convinced individuals who refinanced their houses 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.
To continue the scheme and keep victims from discovering the crime, Gonzales lied to the victims repeatedly and told them their investments were doing well, according to court records. As a result of the lies, some victims gave Gonzales more money to invest. He also made payments to some victims using money he received from others.
Gonzales received roughly $1 million total from at least 16 victims in 2007 and 2008. Instead of investing the victims' funds as promised, he diverted roughly $410,000 for his own use.
The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and Henderson Police Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Newman and Kimberly Frayn.