OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) - A federal jury convicted a 79-year-old businessman of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering in a $3.8 million real estate Ponzi scheme, prosecutors said.
The jury deliberated for less than 3 hours this week before convicting Joseph Angelo Sivigliano, of Oklahoma City, of 46 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Sivigliano sold real estate "investment opportunities" in Helping Hearts and Hands Inc., based in Bethany, Okla. Prosecutors said he took $3.8 million from 67 investors, using new money to pay off earlier investors, and himself, his associates and his businesses, including Celebrity Limo and Valet Corp., MC Productions Inc., and Lansbrook Worship & Event Center, which is owned and operated by his daughter and grandson.
"Sivigliano held HHH out to investors as a legitimate 501(c)(3) charitable organization engaged in real estate investments to benefit philanthropic ventures such as its Christian childcare facility 'Teaching Little Hearts and Hands,'" prosecutors said in a statement.
"However, Sivigliano was not a registered investment advisor or broker-dealer in the State of Oklahoma and HHH was not registered as a licensed securities firm or otherwise authorized to sell securities in the State of Oklahoma."
Prosecutors said investors lost $1.7 million in the scheme.
Sivigliano faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000.
Co-conspirators Dwight Pimson, 57, of Shreveport, La., and Venus Marie Pimson, 43, of Yukon, Okla., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in November.
The Pimsons testified against Sivigliano; each faces up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing dates are pending.
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