San Diego Business Leader Gina Champion-Cain Sentenced to 15 Years for Massive Ponzi Scheme and Obstruction of Justice
Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron P. Arnzen (619) 546-8384 and Andrew J. Galvin (619) 546-9721
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 31, 2021
SAN DIEGO (STL.News) Gina Champion-Cain, a long-time San Diego business leader, restauranteur, and real estate magnate, was sentenced in federal court today to 15 years in prison for masterminding a massive, years-long Ponzi scheme and obstructing justice by hiding and destroying evidence from federal investigators.
When she pleaded guilty on July 22, 2020, Champion-Cain admitted that she raised more than $350 million from investors by promising to use their money to make loans to business owners who were attempting to acquire California liquor licenses. The investors were unaware, however, that Champion-Cain was not keeping her promise.
According to court records, Champion-Cain and her co-conspirators instead used funds from new investors to pay back others whose investments would soon be redeemed, and embezzled funds to support her other businesses and her lifestyle. Champion-Cain and her co-conspirators kept the scheme going by, among other things, fabricating documents, forging signatures, and telling investors lies through fake email accounts so that when investors attempted to double-check on their investments with third parties, they were often really communicating with the defendant or her employees.