Federal Agent Arraigned on Fraud Indictment

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The victim of a fraud suffered a double whammy when the federal agent he enlisted to help grifted him instead, prosecutors say.
     David Herrera, 70, of Torrance, was arraigned Friday afternoon after authorities apprehended him the night before at LAX, returning from an overseas trip.
     Though Herrera allegedly told victims that he was an FBI agent, the man is actually a former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
     Federal prosecutors laid out the alleged scheme in a June 5 indictment against Herrera and his accused co-conspirator, Jerome Whittington, 65, of La Quinta.
     Prosecutors say one of Herrera and Whittington’s victims, identified in the indictment as C.V., went to them for help after two companies, Pacific Property Assets and Medical Capital Corp., defrauded him.
     With Herrera posing as an FBI agent and Whittington misrepresenting himself as an attorney, they told C.V. that they needed funds to post bonds as a precursor to seizing and liquidating company assets such as real properties and cars.
     Whittington later purported to have obtained a $4 million judgment, and told C.V. “that representatives from the companies and other victims were very angry and that he should leave the country to avoid confrontations and harassment,” a news release on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s office states.
     Advising C.V. to travel to Europe, Whittington allegedly offered to stay in the man’s home to confront representatives from the two companies, should they show up to harass him.
     Prosecutors say C.V. paid Whittington close to $290,000, which was used for personal expenses and as payments to Herrera, or other victims of his scheme.
     Herrera posed as an FBI investigator again for a second scheme in which Whittington posed as a former federal prosecutor, according to the indictment.
     Prosecutors say Herrera and Whittington milked $8,500 from a man who sought their assistance in securing immigration benefits for his wife.
     Herrera and Whittington are charged in the federal grand jury indictment with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements in a passport application.
     A Riverside federal judge presided over Herrera’s arraignment on a nine-count indictment. If convicted, he faces a statutory maximum penalty of 170 years in federal prison.
     Whittington meanwhile is in custody on a year-old wire fraud indictment. Those charges relate to two fraudulent business deals involving real estate and a venture involving an Internet browser.
     The two victims in the schemes lost roughly $165,000, prosecutors say.
     The U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

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