United States District Judge sentenced Janamjot Singh Sodhi, 35, of Fresno, a former investment adviser, to four years and nine months in prison for four counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud investors, announced United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner on Monday. The court ordered Sodhi to pay $2,386,000 in restitution to victims.
According to court documents, from 2005 through September 2011, Sodhi carried out a scheme to defraud investors through his business Elite Financial Inc. Sodhi solicited investments from individuals using false pretenses, promising various investment opportunities with high rates of return in a relatively short period of time. He did not use the investors’ funds for the stated investment purpose but instead paid returns to other investors and personal expenses for himself and others. To lull investors into believing that their funds were secure and were being used for their intended purpose, Sodhi periodically sent them false financial statements purportedly showing the investments made on their behalf. When investors requested a return of their investments, Sodhi stalled and delayed by using a variety of falsehoods. In some cases, he repaid certain investors with funds from newly acquired investors. In other cases, he provided investors with repayment checks that were insufficient, counterfeit, or drafted on a closed account.
In January 2006, the New York Stock Exchange permanently debarred Sodhi, and in January 2009, the California Department of Corporations ordered Sodhi to cease and desist from engaging in the business of an investment advisor in California. Despite his debarment and lack of state certification, he continued to hold himself out to clients as an investment/financial adviser who could buy and sell securities on behalf of clients.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk Sherriff and Christopher Baker prosecuted the case.