Pinn Leasing Tommy A. Larsen Sentencing Postponed
“STIPULATION and order by Judge Marilyn L. Huff as to defendant Tommy A Larsen, defendant Kim A Larsen sentencing hrg cont 9:00 8/2/04 for Tommy A Larsen, for Kim Larsen before Judge Marilyn Huff (tkl)”
PinnLease USA President Tommy Larsen Pleads Guilty
(Originally, Larsen told Leasing News he was “not guilty” and his
By Mike Freeman
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
The former president of a PinnFund USA subsidiary pleaded guilty to fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion charges related to the scam that engulfed the defunct Carlsbad mortgage company.
Tommy A. Larsen, president of PinnLease, admitted to scheming to funnel money from bogus equipment leases to himself, among other charges.
He pleaded guilty to scheming to obtain funds for PinnFund U.S.A. through fraudulent equipment leases, and laundering kickbacks of those funds to the mortgage lender and himself through sham transactions and false invoices, prosecutors said.
Larsen also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with his previous attempt to provide false testimony in federal court.
The defendant also pleaded guilty to evading taxes with respect to his 1999 and 2000 federal income taxes by charging personal expenditures to PinnFund, by structuring his compensation to avoid payroll taxes, and by hiding the proceeds of illicit activity in offshore financial institutions.
Sentencing is set for April 5 before U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff.
(This has been postponed as evidently a plea was entered by his wife and there was difficulty in accepting the term; however, this appears to be resolved as the sentencing hearing is now set for August 2,2004. editor)
"The personal greed of those responsible for the massive PinnFund fraud led to the collapse of the corporation, the loss of millions of dollars by investors and the evasion of taxes,' said Denise L. Rubin, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge for San Diego.
PinnLease was the office equipment leasing arm of PinnFund, which imploded in March 2001 when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit alleging massive fraud.
Criminal charges followed the SEC action against several of the ringleaders, including chief executive Michael Fanghella, who in February was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Counting Larsen, seven people linked to PinnFund have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. One of the top money raisers in the scam, James Hillman, a former Oakland lawyer, is fighting the charges. No trial date is scheduled.
U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said Larsen, 54, entered his plea without reaching a deal with prosecutors. He admitted to laundering kickbacks from phony office equipment leases to PinnFund and himself, attempting to provide false testimony and evading taxes by charging personal expenses to PinnFund and structuring his salary to sidestep payroll taxes. Some of the money was hidden in offshore banks.
"Today's guilty plea demonstrates the extraordinary scope of the fraudulent conduct that occurred at PinnFund," Lam said.
About 160 investors put $330 million into PinnFund over a five-year span. They were promised 17 percent returns on their money, which they were told was being used to finance mortgage loans.
Instead, the money went to cover millions in operating losses at PinnFund, to enrich company executives and to provide investors with their monthly returns, which is the way a classic Ponzi scheme operates.
While the total loss remains unclear, prosecutors said about $106 million came back to investors in the form of monthly payments. That puts the estimated loss of investor funds at about $224 million – making the scam among the largest in San Diego County history.
In all, Larsen pleaded guilty to 18 counts of a 23-count federal indictment handed up on January. Sentencing is scheduled April 5 before U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff. Larsen faces more than 20 years in prison.
PinnFund U.S.A. was closed by court order on March 23, 2001.
( For further information about PinnLease USA, please go here: