SoCal Attorney Gets 2½ Years for Frauds

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – Newport Beach attorney Gino Paul Pietro had a bad week, being sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for two fraud schemes in Southern California.
     It could have been worse for Pietro, 54, who faced up to 20 years in prison on each wire fraud conviction, one in Orange County and one in San Diego County.
     He was sentenced to 2 years on Monday, July 20, for what prosecutors called “a sophisticated loan fraud scam” that used a straw buyer to conceal a client’s receipt of more than $4 million in commercial loans back by the federal government.
     That sentence was delivered in Santa Ana Federal Court, in Orange County.
     On Friday, he was sentenced to 10 months for defrauding six families, each of whom had a member in pretrial detention, of $3,000 apiece, by falsely telling them his investigator was an attorney “who could ‘globally’ resolve their criminal and immigration cases,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego said in a statement.
     Six months of that sentence are to be served consecutively to the 2-year sentence; four months concurrently.
     U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, who called Pietro a “disgrace to the entire legal profession,” also ordered him to pay $18,000 in restitution.
     Pietro must show up in Santa Ana Federal Court on Oct. 26 for a restitution hearing.
     He must report to prison on Nov. 27.
     His client in the Orange County case, Donald Goff, was sentenced to 78 months in prison. Goff’s wife and stepdaughter received shorter sentences.
     Pietro was suspended from practice of law in 2014 after being convicted of wire fraud, according to the California State Bar. On June 18, 2014, he was placed on interim suspension after conviction, according to the California Bar Journal. He had an office in Costa Mesa.
     (Editor’s note: An early version of this article incorrectly reported that there were two Gino Paul Pietros. That error was due to the Bar Journal’s reporting the suspended attorney’s age as 63. But they are the same man, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Pietro is 54.)

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