Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 12
Little Italy Scamsters Offering up to 96% Headed to Prison
Richard Habib and Luis Madrid were sentenced today (March 15) for their role in a scam that promised investors annual returns of 14% to 96%. They headed Corporate Funding Financial of America, which said it could develop profitable commercial and residential projects in Little Italy. Madrid got 96 months and Habib 46 months in a case prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office. The scam was originally reported on this site before criminal investigators got interested.
Separately, Sterling Wayne Pirtle was sentenced to serve 57 months and Ronald Allen Fisher 63 months for their role in a $70 million fraudulent equipment leasing scam pulled by their company Commercial Money Center. Before the company went bankrupt, it obtained more than $300 million from financial institutions through sale of sub-prime equipment lease pools.
Phuong Quoc Truong was sentenced to 70 months in federal court in San Diego for his role in the Tran Organization, which cheated gambling casinos around the country. There have been other indictments in this case. The defendants created a "false shuffle" cheating scheme at casinos, bribing casino card dealers and supervisors to perform false shuffles in blackjack and mini-baccarat games. Among the casinos cheated by the gang were Sycuan and Barona in San Diego County and Pechanga in Temecula.