CARLSBAD — A Carlsbad man who ran a Ponzi scheme that defrauded dozens of investors out of millions was sentenced this week to more than seven years in federal prison.
Richard Lee Ramirez was indicted by a grand jury in 2022 for taking money investors gave him for his company JMJ Capital Group and spending it on personal items such as “luxury cars, travel, potential real-estate transactions” and more.
A prosecution sentencing memorandum states Ramirez used investor money “to fund a lavish lifestyle and to perpetuate the facade that he was a successful investor. From a Rolls Royce to other luxury cars, multiple luxury vacations, luxury home rentals, yacht rentals, and jewelry, Ramirez plundered his investors’ money.”
He also used investor money to pay back other investors, typical of a Ponzi scheme.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Ramirez represented to investors that JMJ was involved in a variety of business ventures, including buying and reselling personal protective equipment, factoring accounts receivable, importing and selling furniture and refurbishing air conditioning units for cruise ships. But the company wasn’t involved in almost any of those services, according to prosecutors, barring the sale of about 100 boxes of gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramirez pleaded guilty last year to securities fraud and money laundering counts.
Along with a 90-month prison sentence, Ramirez was ordered to pay nearly $5.5 million in restitution to the victims.
“Many of those victims suffered substantial hardship and were devastated by the fraud,’’ according to the prosecution’s sentencing papers, which states the FBI identified 34 total victims, who have each lost anywhere from “several thousand to over $1.4 million.’’