Sacramento Man Arrested for Financial Crimes Against Martinez Family

October 23, 2012 13:00 pm · 29 comments

Contra Costa District Attorney Mark A. Peterson announced today that 54-year-old Lawrence Dean Grzelak, a former real estate agent from Sacramento, has been arrested by the District Attorney’s Investigations Unit for securities fraud by deceiving a Martinez family of $76,558 in a fraudulent investment scheme.

The following information is from the CoCo D.A.’s Office:

In 2006, Grzelak purchased a condominium in upscale Lahaini, Maui for $469,000. . Nonetheless, Grzelak fell behind in making mortgage payments in 2010. Grzelak owed thousands in arrears to American Savings Bank.

Victims, unaware of Grzelak’s mortgage problems with American Savings Bank, contacted this former real estate agent in order to purchase a rental property in the Bay Area. Rather than assist the victims to purchase property, Grzelak convinced the victims’ to invest in a fraudulent securities scheme that did not exist…a scheme that was supposed to double in value in a month. Victim handed Grzelak two checks for $4,400 and $76,588, respectfully.

In reality, Grzelak forwarded the victim’s check for $76,558 to American Savings Bank to pay down the arrears on his Hawaiian mortgage.

Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Investigation Unit, in conjunction with the Hawaiian Attorney General Office, discovered that the money was never invested in any security; instead, the money directly paid down Grzelak’s mortgage debt.

Grzelak has been charged with violating two felonies as well as an enhancement for an excessive loss. Grzelak faces a maximum sentence of 4 years, 8 months.

District Attorney Mark A. Peterson stated “that this office will prosecute anyone who deceives victims of their hard earned money in a securities fraud scheme. We will not tolerate swindlers, con artists, nor financial predators in our community.”

Lawrence Dean Grzelak is being prosecuted by the Real Estate Fraud Unit of Contra Costa County by Deputy District Attorney Ken W. McCormick.

Howard K Mullins III October 23, 2012 at 1:07 PM

“that this office will prosecute anyone who deceives victims of their hard earned money in a securities fraud scheme”

Too bad that statement does not hold true for murderers as well.

Looks to me like Mark is trying to make up for the publicity disaster created by his decision on the Rosen case.

Jeninreality October 23, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Stupid should hurt….

Cee Cee October 23, 2012 at 1:49 PM

DA Mark Peterson stated “that this office will PROSECUTE ETC..ETC….!!” WHAT A CROCK of #$&$%# !!!!

Killjoy October 23, 2012 at 2:02 PM

This guy took a little money and will do more time than a kid who took two lives.

What’s wrong with our society?

I’m not saying this sleazeball shouldn’t do time. He should.
You guys know where I’m going with this.

Factcheck October 23, 2012 at 2:46 PM


What exact legal steps should the DA have taken in the Roaen case that would make you happy? Please, name the exact legal measures he should have taken.

Clayton-ite October 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Nonetheless? Who wrote that up?? Strange.

Anyway, it is still unbelievable to me that people still fall for stuff like this. Not that they deserved it , but really? Double in a month and it doesn’t raise any alarm bells? I wonder if they even met the guy in real life?

anon October 23, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Reads a bit like a paid promotional announcement from the District Attorney’s office. I must be reading too many campaign ads.

mike October 23, 2012 at 3:33 PM

@Factcheck – I think his point is that if you kill two people you should go to jail longer than if you defraud someone out of $75K +.
Rosen was a minor, but committed an adult crime…I guess if Grzelak was 17 years old, Peterson would give him a slap on the wrist too! (rather than four years +)

anonamiss October 23, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Some people are very trusting. Different generation perhaps. Nonetheless this guy is a scumbag who only thought of his own troubling financial problems and used and abused a trusting elderly couple. Too bad their isn’t a real lion’s pit to throw scumbags in……

sleeplessinwc October 23, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Maybe they know my friend the Nigerian prince? He has a much better way to flip an investment!

dilligafman October 23, 2012 at 3:49 PM


Rage Ricin October 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I actually agree with all of the above!!!

Atticus Thraxx October 23, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Greedy victims got burned. Next.

Had Enough October 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

“… faces a maximum sentence of 4 years, 8 months.”
If prosecuted here (CoCoCounty), believe this falls under AB-109 which means, he will do no more that 28 months and some or most of it possibly at HOME.

Both Assemblywoman Bonilla and State Senator DeSaulnier voted in favor of AB-109.

Among many things it automatically cuts Felony sentences in half, and has shipped, all but the worst felons, back from state prisons to the counties they came from. This included disabled inmates, lawsuits on their behalf have already been filed against the state and one Southern California County in Federal Court. Sending convicted felons back to the counties has causing overcrowding and early releases. By the end of September, Riverside County had made 5,056 early releases attributed to AB109 crowding. Punishment for misdemeanor crimes has become a joke.

AB-109 actually encourages home detention with electronic monitoring.
Shasta County for example more than doubling it’s home electronic confinement budget, from $230,000 to $484,849.
From a recent post on Claycord, “… my neighbor had a transmitter on his ankle and he was slinging dope in front of my house.” Merced County May 2012 woman convicted of DUI in an accident that killed a local firefighter was sent home on electronic monitoring after serving less than a day of her sentence in jail.

Ask a cop or someone familiar with criminal justice system their opinion of AB-109. State Legislature known for kicking the can down the road in their never ending avoidance in solving problems, solved state prison overcrowding crisis by shoving felons back to the counties they came from.
State now is laying off their highly compensated Parole agents, counties are now also responsible under AB-109 for supervising almost all inmates on state parole.

Ask yourself do DeSaulnier and Bonilla have our best interests in mind or do they just vote the way their party tells them to?

anonymous October 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Peterson ought to be prosecuted for failing to take a pay cut like all his employees were forced into. Talk about arrogant. Definately not a leader who shared sacrifice, more like a exhalted potentate .I love that term and I think I will apply it to Peterson henceforth;

TinFoiler October 23, 2012 at 5:01 PM

“…..We will not tolerate swindlers, con artists, nor financial predators in our community.”

I guess you’ll have to go after the bankers and politicians that bilked the American out of all that bailout money.

DoReMi October 23, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Respectively. Not respectfully. I have been noticing this stuff lately.

Wesley Mouch October 23, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Confiscating your TAKE HOME PAY and using it for an ulterior motive… Doesn’t that kind of thing happen in Sacramento on a daily basis? The latest version is the Rescue of the Innocent Children… aka Prop 30. Seems to me Lawrence Dean Grzelak would fit right in with that crowd. Mark Peterson may be on to something here!

Cee Cee October 23, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Has anyone checked or heard about the fairness and the lawsuits going on with in the office personal concerning Mr. Peterson ?

Starfish October 23, 2012 at 6:08 PM

I can’t help but agree; this could have been the family’s life savings. I cannot believe that this happened, i would never fall for a scheme like that.

SK October 23, 2012 at 7:14 PM

@Had Enough is correct. Howard, because of AB109, Rosen will do more time as a juvenile than he would have done if prosecuted as an adult. While I have no admiration for Mark Peterson, he knew this, and that is probably why he prosecuted Rosen as a juvenile.

Don’t like the outcome? Look at the POLITICIANS who have put these laws into place. The blame lies on them. And hey, we have an election coming up real soon. Do you really want to vote for these incumbents?

Jah October 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM

@14 Had Enough… me thinks the elephant in the room here is mandatory minimums for what I consider minor drug offenses. Our jails and prisons are full of low level weed peddlers and now we have no room for violent criminals. Another of the many tragic effects that the War on Drugs has had on society at large.

Dear Jah October 23, 2012 at 9:33 PM

What crap. The jails are not full of low level weed peddlers. They are full of burglars, robbers, crack salemen and child molesters. Your statement is very 60s.

@Jah October 23, 2012 at 10:46 PM

You need to educate yourself about AB-109, since it went into effect just over a year ago California’s prison population has dropped by more than 26,000 inmates. What ever the elephant is Bonilla and DeSaulnier voted for AB-109.
From Monday’s The Sacramento Bee a story about AB-109
From a post on Claycord a couple of months ago. “Here is just one example, under AB 109 (realignment): If a crook has 5 prior felony convictions for auto theft and has been to state prison 3 times in the recent past, and is convicted of a new auto theft, he/she CANNOT be sent to prison anymore. He can only go to county jail and automatically gets 1/2 time credits. Even if he violates probation for his/her 6th auto theft, he/she still cannot be sent to prison. Word has gotten out among the crooks that the price of theft crimes has gone way down.”
Bonilla and DeSaulnier voted for AB-109.

OneUpYa October 24, 2012 at 3:00 AM

Would the DA file on me if I charged over $600,000 to run a shuttle service along the Monument Corridor for the next three years? Sorry, I’m still hung up on that story. I’m going to council with a proposal…..I’ll drive the bus myself at a cost of only $517,319 over three years. Hell, I’ll even buy my own bus! (And by bus I mean Plymouth Voyager). Kudos to the DA for filing a felony though. Now lets hope they don’t plea it down to a misdemeanor.

former law enf October 24, 2012 at 7:00 AM

RE: Jah, #24. Nice to see the words I wrote from way back. They are still true. Here is the reality; if you don’t like the laws related to punishment of juvenile offenders, then look to the legislators that voted for those laws. The DA has to work with the statutes that are in affect at the time of the offense. Prosecutors do not punish offenders; judges do, and judges can only work with the statutes passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. I can promise you, most CA judges think AB109 is ill-conceived. However, judges also understand the political reality. CA was forced to reduce the state-prison population by an order signed by a federal judge in SF (Henderson), appointed for life by Jimmy Carter. It is also much cheaper to place an offender on an electronic ankle monitor than place them in a prison cell. Cheaper….but much more dangerous. Perhaps we should be more careful when we vote for state and federal legislators. Can you imagine the federal judges we will get if the U.S. Senate remains controlled by Dems and Obama is re-elected? Obama will no longer need to govern from the center and his judicial appointments will be far left and very young (remember….lifetime appointments).

To the “dude” that thinks weed peddlers take up jail/prison space. You must be high yourself. Less than 1/2 of 1% of in-custody state inmates are in for weed. In the bay area, that number is even lower. Have a good day and lock your doors.

Teacher Wannabe October 24, 2012 at 8:54 AM

You GO Mark! Ignore the detractors. You cant please everybody. Best D.A.

Connie Dobbs October 24, 2012 at 9:42 AM

“You need to educate yourself” is my suggested replacement for the state motto. Y’all are certainly fond of saying that. Anyway, It’s nobody’s fault but ours for electing the idiots who passed this.

js October 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM

WOW…. I wish he had gotten this worked up about Sam and Hadess that were killed on April 7th, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. by David Rosen who was charged as a minor….71 mph going to a friend’s house, I was at the final sentencing on Monday, all you could hear in the court room were sobs from ALL OF US, so saddened by this senseless act.

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