President and CFO of HL Leasing Found Liable Ponzi scheme
A class action case against the officers and others thought liable in the HL Leasing, Fresno, California scheme masterminded by John Otto, who committed, suicide, has found the president, Dan Ramirez, and Andy Fernandez, chief financial officer, liable and ordered to pay $46.5 million to more than 1,200 who claim to be victims. Ara Jabagchourian, principal, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, Burlingame, California brought the case before Judge Donald S. Black in Fresno County Superior Court.
How much of the reported $132 million, and perhaps more specifically to those in the class action suit of the award of $46.5 million, will actually be returned is not known at this time.
Kathleen Otto, the late John Otto's wife, even though accounting was done at their home, was not found guilty by the jury, as reportedly they did not find evidence that her actions caused any financial harm to the victims. However Jabagchourian believes she could be held liable under the theory she was a shareholder of the three companies Otto had founded that reportedly defrauded the victims. A hearing is scheduled for September.
The FBI also has not released its findings regarding alleged fraud.
Leasing News broke the story May 11, 2009 and had a telephone call into John Otto for an interview on May 10 prior to printing the story.