A San Fernando Valley businesswoman has been sentenced to five years in prison in a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than $2 million.
Celia Gallardo, 42, of North Hills, pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud, admitting that she took money from real estate investors between September 2007 and September 2008. Gallardo promised high return rates for investing in her real estate program but then paid earlier investors back with newer investors’ money.
She told United States District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson that she used the money for house payments, foreign travel and cash withdrawals.
Gallardo primarily operated businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley, including Gold Feather Realty and Gold Credit Investments. She was also involved with several businesses in the Antelope Valley, including Gallardo Property Management and Casa Bella Mortgage.
In addition to the jail time, Pregerson on Monday ordered Gallardo to pay nearly $2.4 million back to her victims, who primarily are California and Arizona residents.