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Real estate agent to plead guilty in multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme

October 15, 2012 |  4:27 pm

A San Fernando Valley real estate agent has admitted to running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme out of companies based in the Santa Clarita Valley, authorities said Monday.

Celia Gallardo, 42, of North Hills agreed to plead guilty to defrauding investors in 2007 by falsely promising them high returns for investing in her real estate program, authorities said. Gallardo's scheme, which was investigated by the FBI, resulted in losses of at least $2.2 million to dozens of investors.

Instead of investing the money in real estate transactions, Gallardo spent it on her mortgage, foreign travel, Ponzi payments to earlier investors and cash withdrawals, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Gallardo faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and will probably be ordered to make full restitution to her victims, authorities said.

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--Rosanna Xia

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