I don't know why someone would believe a fellow who looks like this and goes by the name Angelo Castello would be in the mafia, but allegedly the 60-year-old's criminal defense attorney neighbor in Yorba Linda bought it and got squeezed for $100,000, according to prosecutors who accuse the defendant of pulling all kinds of cons--including some they may not know about.
The defendant, who is also identified as Angelo Charles Castelo in the online Orange County Sheriff's Department jail database, pleaded not guilty in Fullerton Tuesday to six felony counts of fraudulently defrauding another, one felony count of first degree burglary, one felony count of first degree robbery, one felony count of criminal threats, two felony counts of extortion by force or threat, one felony count of criminal threats, and one felony count of theft with one prior conviction (for grand theft of personal property in 1997 in San Diego County).
He also faces sentencing enhancement allegations for being a non-accomplice present during a residential burglary, committing a crime against a vulnerable victim, crime-bail-crime, aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, and property damage or loss over $65,000--all of which, with a conviction, could have him pretending to be a mafioso to fellow inmates for 17 years and four months. Castello was being held on $250,000 bail and had to prove the money came from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. He's due back at the North Justice Center next Tuesday.
Check out this list of alleged crimes, courtesy of the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA):
Between July 14, 2012, and July 30, 2012, Castello is accused of posing as a day trader and approaching a couple at a yard sale. Castello is accused of telling the couple that he would teach them how to invest in stocks and collected over $10,000 from the victims and never made contact with the victims again or investing the money.
Between Oct. 3, 2013, and Oct. 6, 2013, Castello is accused of approaching a sales employee at a car dealership while looking for a car to purchase. The defendant is accused is of offering a fraudulent investment deal to the employee where he could receive a $12,000 return on an investment. Castello is accused of collecting $3,800 from the employee and never investing the money.
On Feb. 15, 2014, Castello is accused of accompanying his girlfriend to a rental car company and befriending a rental car agent. He is accused of offering the agent an opportunity to invest in an oil company and receiving a substantial return on the investment. The defendant is accused of collecting $7,100 from the victim and never investing the money.
Between May 20, 2014, and May 27, 2014, Castello is accused of befriending a woman who was involved in a car accident and going through financial difficulties. The defendant is accused of contacting the victim and arranging a meeting at her home about her financial problems. Castello is accused of entering the victim's home and telling her about an investment opportunity and collecting multiple payments totaling over $11,000 from the victim over the course of several days. The defendant is accused of threatening the victim when she refused to pay more payments until seeing a return. Castello is accused of never investing the victim's money.
Between July 7, 2014, and July 21, 2014, the defendant is accused of approaching the owner of a pawn shop where he regularly visited and offering the owner an investment opportunity in purchasing diamonds. Castello is accused of collecting $19,500 from the victim and never investing the money.
On Sept. 16, 2014, Castello is accused of approaching a neighbor and offering to sell her playoff tickets to a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball game. The defendant is accused of collecting $480 from the victim and never giving the victim any tickets.
Between Dec. 2, 2014, and Feb. 28, 2015, Castello is accused of posing as a member of the mafia and approaching his neighbor, who was a criminal defense attorney, and telling the victim the defendant needs an attorney to represent one of their members charged with homicide in Los Angeles. The defendant is accused of telling the attorney he needs money to pay other mafia members in Los Angeles. Castello is accused of collecting the money and telling the attorney that the money was invested with insider trading knowledge that the mafia members had and the attorney was now a partner in the crime. The defendant is accused of repeatedly extorting money from the attorney collecting over $100,000.
The last mark was identified by City News Service as attorney Nathan Gjesdal.
"The defendant tells the lawyer he's a captain in the New York mafia crime syndicate and that one of their members in LA is being charged with homicide and they need a criminal defense attorney that's removed from the mafia for appearance's sake, but the mafia will be paying (him)," explained Senior Deputy District Attorney Lynda Fernandez, the Major Fraud Unit prosecutor in the case, to CNS.
"The defendant (then) says, 'I'm going up to LA to make a $5,000 down-payment to the crew and I'm about $800 short, can you front me the $800?'" Fernandez alleged. When the two met again at a strip club, Castello told the attorney that he invested the $800 on an insider-trading tip from the Mafia, and "now the victim is tied to the mob," Fernandez claimed.
The defendant then allegedly extorted payments of up to $5,000 at a time from the attorney, amounting to about $100,000 before Gjesdal contacted the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) about the alleged shakedown. Following an investigation, Castello was arrested on July 1
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By the way, the crime-bail-crime sentencing enhancement references a pending case that accuses Castello of being involved in a gold coin scam in Orange County, according to Fernandez.
The OCDA and the OCSD fear there may be other victims and ask anyone with additional information to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigation Andy Terhorst at 714.648.3615 or sheriff's Investigator Scott Yuen at 714.647.7031.
You know, the more I look at that booking photo, the more I think the subject may be connected--especially if he's wearing sweat pants that match his top.