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The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Bay Area oil and gas company and its CEO with running a $68 million Ponzi-like scheme and affinity fraud that targeted the Chinese-American community in California and investors in Asia, including some solicited as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against the operators of a pyramid and Ponzi scheme falsely promising a gold mine of investment opportunity to investors in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking communities in Massachusetts, Florida, and elsewhere in the U.S.

Following a 14-day trial, a federal jury in Las Vegas returned guilty verdicts yesterday in a case against a Las Vegas attorney and three others for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently take control of homeowners’ associations (HOAs) for the purpose of directing the HOAs’ construction defect litigation and repair work to a law firm and construction company owned by other co-conspirators.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Kevin Sniffen, age 53, of Phoenix, Maryland, an attorney licensed in Maryland, today to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit wire fraud arising from an investment fraud scheme. Judge Motz also ordered Sniffen to pay restitution of $15.85 million.

Joseph C. Waters, Jr., 61, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to using his judicial position to influence the outcome of two cases in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Waters, a former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge, pleaded guilty to an information charging mail fraud and honest services wire fraud.