A recent article from The Press-Enterprise focused on the conviction of the final two defendants in a huge mortgage and securities scam that allegedly took $142 million from at least 26 investors in California, including mainly those in Riverside County. On Monday March 25, 40-year-old Hendrix Montecastro was found guilty of hundreds of felony charges related to the scheme, including charges of white-collar embezzlement and theft. Montecastro’s mother, 61-year-old Helen Pedrino, of Murrieta, was convicted of 56 counts against her related to the scheme.
According to prosecutors, the pair was part of a larger Stonewood Ponzi scheme that lured investors in, largely through investment seminars, some of which were presented as Christian-based investment strategies that benefited charitable causes. Besides Montecastro and Pedrino, many other defendants have already been convicted in the case, including Maurice McLeod, Thuan Nhan Du, Cindi Gayle Kelly, Charlie Sung Choi, and the alleged Ponzi-scheme mastermind James Duncan.
Pedrino, believed to be one of the main recruiters in the scam, will face a potential 34 years in state prison at sentencing, and Montecastro will face a maximum sentence of approximately 100 years in state prison. The sentencing is scheduled for April 22 this year.
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