Managing Director of Walnut Creek Investment Company Arrested for Defrauding Lenders

April 3, 2013 · 24 comments

Stephen B. Lopez, age 57, of Lafayette, California, was arrested on Thursday, March 28, 2013, on mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

According to the indictment, Lopez was the managing director of Lighthorse Ventures LLC, a private equity investment company founded in 2000 and located in Walnut Creek, California. Lopez solicited loans on behalf of Lighthorse, drafting and signing promissory notes in which he promised to timely pay the principal and interest of 10 percent and 12 percent per year. In furtherance of the fraud, Lopez allegedly produced and distributed brochures that falsely represented Lighthorse’s ownership interests in companies, real properties, and oil wells and overvalued and misrepresented the entities owned by Lighthorse. When soliciting loans, Lopez allegedly failed to inform the prospective lenders that: (1) he had previously failed to return the principal and interest to the majority of lenders, and (2) he would shortly be required to make a final payment of $600,000 to Lonestar Trust as a result of a civil settlement agreement between Lopez and his former clients.

The money laundering charges allege that Lopez used the fraud profits, that is, money received from lenders on behalf of Lighthorse, to pay a personal debt of $600,000 owed to clients and to make a $50,000 payment to a consultant.

Lopez made his initial appearance on March 29, 2013, before a magistrate judge in San Francisco and was released on a $100,000 bond.

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud is 20 years’ imprisonment; $250,000 fine or twice the amount of gain or loss, whichever is greater; three years of supervised release; a $100 special assessment; and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for money laundering is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense conduct, three years’ supervised release, and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 355.

Stephen Corrigan is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting this case with the assistance of Kathleen Turner. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

1 RandomTask April 3, 2013 at 10:35 AM

So his next job will be Govornor or if he wants to be low key ….take his ride on the Concord City Council and life benifitz<<<<….payed by us ……no real story here someone cheating people out of money happens billions of times a day ..,.no real surprise

2 Rob April 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Too bad they did’t arrest anyone from HSBC bank for the billons of dollars they laundered for the drug cartels.

3 Miranda April 3, 2013 at 10:54 AM

I love that last paragraph:

“Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Lopez must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Curious how white collar crime gets the kid glove treatment. I’m guessing this guy didn’t get tazed, billy clubbed, stripped searched, and his mother’s house ransacked fishing for evidence. Two tier justice system.

4 Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 11:10 AM

They should have set the bail higher. He sounds like a flight risk to me. I hope the FBI and the IRS have looked into any offshore bank accounts or investments he may have opened/made over the years.

I also think this latest group of investors should have recourse to recover their stolen money from anyone in the first group of investors who received their stolen funds. It’s unfortunate for any investors who are fleeced by scam artists. But, the first group should have contacted the regulatory authorities (SEC, etc.) years ago and put a stop to his illegal and unethical business practices.

5 steve April 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I went to Acalanes, ’74, with a Steve Lopez. I wonder if this is him? Same name, same age.
Is there a picture associated with the article? Although I haven’t seen him in years.
I guess the temptation was too much.

6 Bigfoot April 3, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Lol, someone ripped off the banks for a change but ended up in jail. Why can’t the bank execs go to jail too?

7 Anon2you April 3, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Own a Gun and you can rob a bank,
Own a Bank and you can rob everyone!

8 Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 1:34 PM

@Bigfoot
It’s not an LOL. We all pay the price when someone steals from the banks. If the banks fail, our taxes pay for all those “insured” demand deposits and savings deposits.

9 Mary April 3, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Wait Hold on!!!! This can’t be happening not under Obama Administration. This should be occurring during the evil, evil, evil Reagan Administration. There is no greed under this presidency. Sooo what is the problem?

Anyway Greed has always been around and now the this perfect economy we are going to see it get worse. People will try to defraud others just to survive or just simply greed to gain material wealth.

10 Bigfoot Miranda April 3, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Well put!

11 Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Results of Google Search on Stephen B. Lopez (a lawyer who’s apparently also a crook…go figure):

Stephen Lopez’s Overview

Current
Managing Director at Fortress Capital Partners, LLC
Managing Director at LightHorse Ventures, LLC
Director at Wood Rose Academy
Past
Managing Director at NorthStar Land Company
Principal at Stephen B. Lopez & Company
Education
Stanford University Law School
University of California, Berkeley – Walter A. Haas School of Business

12 Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

According to the California State Bar, Stephen Bernard Lopez “resigned with charges pending” in February 2004. That should have been a red flag when those lenders did their background checks.

Here’s the link. If that doesn’t work, go to the California Bar website and enter Stephen B. Lopez.

http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/122927

13 JAFO April 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Get a grip, Miranda. You know very well that the same presumption of innocense protection is constitutionally extended to every accused individual, regardless of the color of their collar.

14 @Mary April 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Pray tell what does Obama and his presidency have to do with this scumbag stealing from others?? Just wanting everyone to know your political affiliation?? Just curious……… and what do bet this scumbag is an elephant!!! (presumptuous I know)

15 concord hater #1 April 3, 2013 at 4:34 PM

$100,000 bond fee is chump change for this human waste…probably has millions in the bank.

How about mandatory life sentence in prison for anyone who commits money laundering scemes, wire fraud, etc???

16 Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 5:23 PM

@#14
I’m betting he’s registered Democrat (because most attorneys are) and he’s one of those hypocrites who pretends to care about the middle and lower classes while laughing all the way to the bank (except the banks he stole from).

17 old concord April 3, 2013 at 5:31 PM

A lot of us lost our homes to keep the banks afloat. Not complaining just glad the money’s safe . I have a bigger car than most homeless. Life is great in Concord.=)

18 Anon April 3, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Just another illegal alien helping our community.

19 Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I like Concord hater #1’s idea about a mandatory life sentence in prison. I also think there should be no hiding behind the limited liability corporation veil (LLC) when it comes to criminal offenses. If you commit money laundering through an LLC, your home and anything else you possess of any value should be confiscated just like they do with drug dealers.

20 Lake April 3, 2013 at 8:32 PM

There are a lot more out there – you just wonder how they get away with staying out of jail.
http://www.corp.ca.gov/ENF/pdf/2011/Chetcuti_DR.pdf

21 Not surprised April 4, 2013 at 7:28 AM

Deciding to read the article, I thought to myself “I wonder how long it will take for someone to blame Obama”? Thanks Mary for the chuckle!

@Mary #9 Not that you care particularly, but the indictment is online http://tinyurl.com/c5lq8fw and it seems to indicate the alleged crimes took place in March and April of 2008…which you might notice is BEFORE Obama was elected. So by your own logic (not mine though) it’s clearly Bush’s fault hahaha

22 Anonymous April 4, 2013 at 7:45 AM

@Lake#20
Hopefully, that Chetcuti fellow is in jail and serving a life sentence like Concord hater #1 suggests. Our legislators also need to take a look at our bankruptcy laws. A crook shouldn’t be able to discharge debts associated with criminal activities. They should take his home and monitor him and his bank accounts and other assets until his debts are repaid – for life if necessary. We are far too soft on crime – especially white collar crime.

23 Lake April 4, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Not in Jail – Not even charged – There are reports the FBI, Postal Service, and IRS are investigating. Note the date on the document.
http://www.corp.ca.gov/ENF/pdf/2011/Chetcuti_DR.pdf
The word on the street is $24 – $40 MILLION of the clients money is missing. Meanwhile Mr Chetcuti is around town eating in fancy restaurants, paying for expensive weddings while the clients including many elderly he took advantage of scrape by. (Not even charged with elderly abuse… Bragging on Facebook…

24 Anonymous April 4, 2013 at 10:50 AM

@Lake
Let’s hope that karma is real….no better justice than that.

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