Case # 13ZF0178
Date: December 12, 2014
MAN SENTENCED TO NINE YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS IN PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING VICTIMS OF NEARLY $500,000 FROM THEIR IRA INVESTMENT FUNDS
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to nine years and four months in state prison for defrauding victims of $492,000 from their individual retirement account (IRA) investment funds. Robert Barth, 62, Laguna Niguel, was found guilty by a jury, Sept. 29, 2014, of two felony counts of using an untrue statement in purchase or sale of a security, three felony counts of grand theft, one felony count of theft from an elder with white collar sentencing enhancements for related felony fraud resulting in a taking of more than $100,000 and less than $500,000.
At the time of the crimes, Barth was a certified financial planner and acted as a financial advisor to the victims and gained their trust and friendship. One of the victims in this case considered the defendant his best friend while others participated in various activities with the defendant or knew him through their children and grandchildren’s school.
In 2003, Barth fraudulently convinced two victims to roll their IRAs into self-directed IRAs that he claimed would be invested in California Mortgage Notes. The defendant directed the IRA trust administrator to transfer the victims’ money into a bank account that Barth controlled.
Several years later, the victims were notified by the IRA trust administrator that there were no mortgage notes and that their entire IRA investment had been lost.
In 2008, Barth fraudulently convinced two separate victims to roll their retirement funds into self-directed IRAs that Barth claimed would be invested in a company called Coachella Valley Entitlement, LLC. The defendant knew one of the victims was an elder. Barth did not inform the victims that he had formed the company just weeks before the first of the two investments was made, that the defendant was the sole signatory on the company’s bank accounts, and that he was the CEO, secretary, CFO, and sole director of the company.
Within a week of the first investment, Barth transferred over one-third of funds into other bank accounts he controlled or withdrew the funds as cash. Within four months of the first investment, Barth had used for his own purposes both victims’ entire investments.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Megan Wagner of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.