Man in retirement scam given 15-year prison term

Posted at 3:03 PM, Sep 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-21 18:03:25-04

A man who pleaded guilty to scamming 29 people out of their retirement savings was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday.

Victim Luis Natividad summed up the case against Richard Provencio as "greed. It's just greed."

Natividad is one of 29 victims of Provencio, who stole nearly $4 million in retirement funds through faulty investments.

Provencio pleaded guilty to nine counts of securities and investment fraud for his role in the scheme.

Provensio and three others were arrested in May 2014 after selling worthless investment contracts to their victims, many of whom are senior citizens.

"I have zero tolerance for those who purposefully deceive individuals, especially seniors, by offering false promises and long term financial security as part of their scam," said state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a press release after the arrest.

Provencio, his wife Carmen and partners Julio Gomez and Carl Battie (aka Hampton), faced 105 felony counts. The charges range from securities fraud to elder abuse and burglary.

The other three have all pleaded not guilty to the charges. Provencio is expected to testify at their trials.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office says the group promised guaranteed financial protection to their investors from 2008 to 2012.

"The defendants in this case were ruthless and heartless in the way they scammed their victims out of millions of dollars in phony investments," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.

Provencio was ordered to pay $3,942,314.01 in restitution to his victims. However, some of that money will already be paid out as part of a $13 million civil lawsuit.

For Natividad, it's a small measure of justice. He's now 74 and has to go back to work after losing $111,000 to Provencio and his scheme.

"I just want to make sure he knows the harm he's done to my family," Natividad told the court. "It was all gone in six weeks. It took me 15 years to save that money, and it was gone in six weeks."