News

Pleasanton man formally charged for role in Ponzi scheme

Kenneth Kenitzer, 66, could face up to 30 years in prison

A Pleasanton man has been formally charged for his role in what investigators describe as a "massive investment fraud scheme that caused losses of more than $40 million to approximately 150 investors."

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that Kenneth Kenitzer, 66, has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges, which could bring up to 30 years in prison, and cooperate with the investigation.

The charges against Kenitzer come months after the arrest of business partner Anthony Vassallo, 29, of Folsom, Calif., who turned himself in to authorities back in March on multiple counts of mail fraud and money laundering. Vassallo was a 1997 graduate of Foothill High School. At that time, Kenitzer was named as being involved in the Ponzi scheme, but hadn't been formally charged.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin R. Taylor, who is prosecuting the case, said according to documents filed in court, Kenitzer, Vassallo and others operated Equity Investment Management and Trading, Inc. as a hedge fund investment program. Vassallo allegedly offered and sold investments, promising investors that they would make an annual return of up to 36 percent with virtually no risk of loss. The EIMT Hedge Fund investment program did not invest the money obtained as represented.

Taylor said Vassallo recruited many of the sub-fund managers and investors from his church. To keep the scheme going, she said Kenitzer, Vassallo and others in on the operation told investors that they were trading funds and showed fake financial statements as proof. When investors attempted to get their money back, Vassallo told them that the trading company contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission and the federal agency had frozen the funds in their accounts, according to court documents.

Taylor said Kenitzer, who has lived in Pleasanton for more than 30 years, is expected to appear a Sacramento courthouse shortly to enter his guilty plea. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for the mail fraud and up to 10 years for the money laundering, with fines up to twice the value of the victims' losses. The sentence will be dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and will be imposed at the discretion of the court, Taylor said.

For previous stories on this case, click here and here.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Sal
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Love the photo. I wonder if he wore that American flag tie while taking $40 million from approximately 150 investors. Glad to see he had the patriotic spirit while stealing peoples' hard earned money.


Like this comment
Posted by Norris
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I guess Kenneth Kenitzer needed all that money to fund Mitt Romney and the GOP.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 28, 2009 at 4:48 pm

commit the crime do the time...BUSTED!


Like this comment
Posted by no church for me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2009 at 8:48 am

How can these guys recruit from their CHURCH! What about the deal about "greed" not being a good characteristic? Must be a very spiritual dude. Well, maybe not then, but I bet he's praying now...
Ironic eh?


Like this comment
Posted by Gary Schwaegerle
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 29, 2009 at 9:39 am

Gary Schwaegerle is a registered user.

ooooh Norris low blow - nothing like Fleecing the Flock & the feeling of being screwed in the Name of the Lord - Try not to hold it against the rest of the good people - Sorry for being so crude Gary Schwaegerle


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 29, 2009 at 10:13 am

it's ok to be crude when you're talking about the devil...


Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Danville
on Oct 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

It's quite relative...you have good and bad in all entities, even church going people. All though I don't practice going to any church and follow any type of religion whatsoever, not going to "judge anyone," including those types of folks.

Most important, glad the greedy bastard got busted!!!


Like this comment
Posted by Jess
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Ken even had the audacity to steal money from his own family members. He then repeatedly lied about being broke! He stole money from his own mother and only sibling, what a great guy. As far back as his early 20's he has always been excessively greedy.


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 31, 2009 at 6:22 pm

What's he gonna do when he wants to go shopping and he's stuck in the SLAMMER?Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...


Like this comment
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm

...let him without sin cast the first stone.


Like this comment
Posted by Mandy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2009 at 9:00 am

I second Lisa's comment. It is not our place to judge!


Like this comment
Posted by Cliff
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2009 at 4:00 pm

That's a lot of judging without knowing the facts, folks. A guilty plea does not always mean guilty. Sometimes it means that the law is being so unreasonable, that it is better for the welfare of family to cooperate in a plea bargain. Do I know the facts? No. Do you guys know the facts? No. Do I know Ken Kennitzer? Yes, and I would trust him any day. Do you know Ken Kennitzer? I don't know.


Like this comment
Posted by SR
a resident of Downtown
on May 23, 2010 at 12:40 am

I know Ken K 's Son one of the nicest guy's in thw world but also very obvious that his dad is (Word removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)
.Ofcourse I in no way should judge I'm just sharing my own opinion.How sad that these meat heads use the church or one that trust's to take advantage.At the least it gives one an opportunity for the growth that is needed.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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