The jury hearing the prosecution of the co-owner of a former real estate firm was convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme that cost the investors up to $169 million.
Michael J. Stewart, 68, the partner of co-defendant John Packard, was found guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney granted a motion by federal prosecutors to dismiss charges related to bank and bankruptcy fraud.
John Packard pleaded guilty in the same case in November 2014 and is awaiting his sentence.
Stewart and Packard ran Pacific Property Assets, which had offices in Long Beach and Irvine. Their business model, called the Opportunity Fund, was buying and flipping distressed apartment buildings. They lured investors by telling them they could earn 15-30% interest per month when former homeowners needed to rent apartments after their houses were foreclosed.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Robbins.
Read the original article in the Press-Telegram.