San Leandro man convicted in $3M investment fraud scheme

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A San Leandro man was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco today of wire fraud and conspiracy in a scheme that defrauded investors of more than $3 million, according to prosecutors.

Marc Christopher Harmon, 43, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg on Aug. 23.

A jury in Seeborg’s court found him guilty after a one-week trial of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud carried out through emails and fund transfers that furthered the scheme.

Harmon was indicted together with Jason Rivera, 37, of Danville, in 2014. The indictment alleged that between 2008 and 2011, they persuaded multiple investors and lenders to invest more than $3 million by making promises of high returns.

Rivera pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of tax evasion. He is awaiting sentencing and is due to appear before Seeborg for a status conference on June 7.

According to a separate civil lawsuit filed against the two men in 2011 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Rivera was a former realtor and Harmon was an unemployed construction worker when Rivera recruited him to join in the scheme in 2008.

The civil lawsuit ended in a default judgment in federal court in San Francisco requiring the two men to forfeit $3.4 million in ill-gotten gains and interest and pay an additional civil penalty of $650,000.

In the 2014 criminal indictment, a grand jury alleged the two men promised that a company they called Executive Members Management Group would put the money into collateralized mortgage obligations and then leverage those instruments to invest in supposedly lucrative overseas trading markets and funding short-term loans for banks.

Instead, the two men used most of the money to repay previous investors and for personal expenses, the indictment said.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons said Harmon’s trial got off to a shaky start when Harmon failed to appear on the first day and Seeborg issued a warrant for his arrest.

Simmons said FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents were prepared for Harmon’s possible failure to appear and arrested him within 20 minutes of the issuance of the arrest warrant. Harmon will remain in custody while awaiting sentencing.

The maximum sentence for each of the counts on which Harmon was convicted is 20 years in prison.

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