Calvin James Calvin--yes, that's not a typo--sold investors on a securities plan by claiming he was a financial investor for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and other pro athletes.
The Newport Beach 48-year-old was really a parolee barred from investment activities, but Calvin's worst phony role involved playing his own defense lawyer in Orange County Superior Court, where he was just convicted of stealing $198,000 from seven marks.
Calvin met these investors through churches or business, chatting them up about God, family and sports while dropping in his unfounded claim about representing NBA superstars. When he moved into talk of having his listeners invest in his schemes, he was breaking the law. "At the time of the crime, Calvin was on parole for grand theft and was prohibited from engaging in any finance or investment activities as a term of his parole," reads an Orange County District Attorney's office conviction statement.
And yet, between December 2005 and March 2008, Calvin engaged in fraudulent activities that stung at least seven investors out of $198,000. In one scam, Calvin claimed he was an investment broker, but he was really unlicensed, and he promised high returns via the stock market and that his commission would come out of the profits at no cost to the investor. At least five bought in.
The second scheme, which hooked at least one investor, involved Calvin posing as chief financial officer of a legitimate alarm company that he really had nothing to do with. His third scam had him convincing at least one business owner to let him raise capital.
In each case, Calvin provided a business address that actually went to a post office box in a Newport Beach laundromat. He deposited investors' money into a business account and then transferred the funds to his personal accounts before buying a home in Washington, a new Mercedes-Benz, sports memorabilia and more.
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Calvin's investors received nothing, and after one victim contacted the Newport Beach Police Department, the investigation began that brought the parolee down. Squaring off against Senior Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley of the Major Fraud Unit in court, Calvin actually tried to depose Bryant. The judge denied the request to drag the Newport Coast's most-famous Laker into court.
The jury Monday found Calvin guilty of seven felony counts of grand theft, four felony counts of using untrue statements in the purchase or sale of a security, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 in loss, property loss over $150,000, and a prior 2003 conviction for grant theft, the crime that placed him on parole at the time of the crime.
He faces up to 14 years in state prison at his March 8 sentencing hearing.