A Livermore accountant and civic leader has been sentenced to 17 years in state prison for embezzling $2.7 million from 20 victims in a Ponzi scheme, including seven elderly people whose retirement nest eggs were wiped out.
Maynard Weldon Moreland, 50, a former president of the Livermore Chamber of Commerce and a elected city treasurer, pleaded no contest to 34 felony counts Feb. 19 following a massive fraud and embezzlement prosecution, including 21 counts of grand theft, 12 counts of financial elder abuse and one count of engaging in a pattern of theft conduct.
Moreland admitted responsibility in an apology letter to his victims, which was read at his sentencing hearing in front of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy on Wednesday.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Bill Denny said Moreland admitted responsibility for defrauding his clients who trusted him with making investments on their behalf in real estate ventures during the past 20 years.
Several victims lost more than $400,000 each, he said.
Denny said the fraud began in 1993 and was discovered in April 2009 when he stopped making interest payments to investors.
The prosecutor said Moreland operated his scheme by soliciting his victims to invest in local and out-of-state real estate development projects, but he didn't invest their money as promised.
Instead, according to Denny, Moreland embezzled all of the fund for his own enrichment. Some of the victims took out second loans on their homes to finance the investments that Moreland promoted. Moreland paid clients monthly interest payments to maintain their trust.
Denny said Moreland donated some of the embezzled money to charitable groups because "he fancied himself to be a community leader."
He said Moreland also used the money to pay for large gambling and credit card debts.
Denny said the charitable groups that received money from Moreland won't be forced to return them because they weren't aware the money was tainted.
The Ponzi investment scheme was investigated by the Livermore Police Department and the investigation is ongoing regarding the recovery of assets.
The district attorney's office has recovered about $417,000 so far through search warrants and court orders.
The money will be distributed to victims on a proportionate basis at a court hearing June 25.
Anyone with information about the case or about recovering the money can call the district attorney's office at (510) 569-9281.
Moreland's attorney, Jack Noonan, couldn't be reached for comment today.