ESCONDIDO — For about one year, Janet and Ronald Reiswig were millionaires; unfortunately, that same year 39 people became victims in a investment scheme run by the couple.
The Reiswigs pleaded guilty Jan. 14 to three felony grand theft charges relating to stealing approximately $1.9 million from August 2006 to July 2007 through their two nonprofit businesses, U.S. America and Global Reserve, BJ.
The couple faces three years in prison when sentenced in February for admitting three felony counts of grand theft. That sentence will be added on to existing prison time the couple is currently serving out of Orange County relating to a 2008 felony fraud conviction.
Additionally, their assets — including approximately $1 million in cash —, which were frozen at the time of their arrest, will be distributed back to the victims, Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn said.
The 39 victims, at least half of whom are 65 years or older, responded to an ad posted in the San Diego Union-Tribune by the Reiswigs’ company, U.S. America, for Certificates of Deposit under FDIC, according to court documents.
At least nine victims were from North County, Winn said. The remaining victims were from other parts of San Diego County.
During the 11-month period, the Reiswigs spent $800,000 of the victims’ money on vehicles, rent, credit cards and a $100,000 motor home, Winn said. They didn’t have any other source of income except for the 73-year-old Ronald Reiswig’s social security.
The Reiswigs faced more than 100 counts, including grand theft charges and securities violations, relating to the scheme. Their plea comes weeks before they were set to go to trial. At one point, Janet Reiswig, 66, planned to try her case without the aid of an attorney.
“I think she found it was going to be a bit more difficult reviewing the documentation; there is more than 30,000 pages of discovery,” her attorney, alternate public defender Dale Santee, said.
Santee declined to comment about how the decision to plead guilty came about citing attorney client privileges and the pending sentencing.
Winn said a late plea is typical of defendants when they get close to trial and realize the odds are against them.
She said her office felt the penalty was appropriate based on all factors of the case and that it would be the quickest way to get restitution to the victims.
“This is the fastest way to get the money released to the victims 100 percent guaranteed,” Winn said. “They’ll have their money by Easter.”
The prosecutor said each victim gets the same percentage back off their investment, which will be about 50 percent.