A federal judge in Santa Ana has sentenced a New Jersey restaurant owner for his participation in a fraudulent, high yield investment scheme that promised no risk and a 20 percent weekly return.
In league with several other men, Ralph Divino–the owner of Steffano's Wood Burning Restaurant in Branchburg, New Jersey–used a series of lies in hopes of stealing $10 million in 2007 from a California man by claiming access to a secret economy for ultra-wealthy individuals.
Divino told his target that he was a diplomat at the United Nations and had previously managed billions of dollars in investment deals.
But the target of the scheme turned out to be an undercover FBI agent posing as a wealthy investor.
Assistant United States Attorney Ivy Wang sought a 51-month prison sentence for Divino.
But this month federal Judge Andrew J. Guilford sentenced him to a term of 36 months and ordered him to undergo three years of supervised probation after his release.
Other individuals involved in the scam were Mark Karimoto, Kevin Kondas and Jeff Moritz, according to federal court records.
Divino, who was born 1961, has not yet entered prison.