Three Coachella Valley Residents Arrested for Detroit-Area Ponzi Scheme After Successful Joint Operations with Cathedral City and Palm Springs Police
|FBI Los Angeles September 14, 2012|
Three individuals wanted on federal fraud charges alleging they victimized hundreds while operating an alleged $25 million investment scheme were arrested in the Coachella Valley, announced Timothy Delaney, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
Mr. Delaney made the announcement on behalf of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; the Cathedral City Police Department; and the Palms Springs Police Department.
An indictment filed in March 2012 in the Eastern District of Michigan charged five defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their alleged roles in an investment scheme where hundreds of victims were allegedly defrauded of millions of dollars. Three of the defendants are Coachella Valley residents. Agents with the FBI’s Palm Springs Resident Agency, part of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, assisted the FBI’s Detroit Field Office in locating the three Coachella Valley-based defendants following the indictment. Agents in Palm Springs requested assistance from the Cathedral City, California and Palm Springs, California Police Departments in locating and apprehending the fugitives.
Ronald Lee Brito, 61, and Bonnie Brito, 66, both of Rancho Mirage, California, were taken into custody on August 10, 2012, by officers with the Cathedral City Police Department after a safely executed vehicle-stop in Cathedral City.
Thomas Winston Moore, 68, of Palm Springs, California, was arrested at his residence on September 8 by officers with the Palm Springs Police Department.
The 64-count indictment alleges defendants participated in the Ponzi scheme between 2005 and 2012 and outlines an investment scheme where victims were promised lucrative returns on their investments in, among other things, valuable minerals extracted from a gold mine in Arizona. The indictment alleges the defendants used various corporate names, including Infinity Trading, LLC; GetMoni.com; and PJM Kingman Mine to lure approximately 500 investors. The government has stated that the scheme brought in investments totaling more than $25 million.
Ronald and Bonnie Brito had an initial appearance in California and in the Eastern District of Michigan once they were returned to Detroit. Ronald Brito was remanded to federal custody and Bonnie Brito was released on bond.
Thomas Moore had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Monday, September 10 and was remanded to federal custody pending removal to Detroit.
This investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan.
The fugitive investigation involving defendants Ronald Brito, Bonnie Brito, and Thomas Winston Moore was conducted by officers with the Cathedral City Police Department; Palm Springs Police Department; and agents with the FBI in Palm Springs and Detroit. The United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles (Central District of California) provided considerable assistance during the California portion of this investigation.
- FBI Los Angeles: 310-996-3343
- U.S. States Attorney’s Office/EDMI: Gina Balaya, 313-226-9758
- Cathedral City PD: PIO Lieutenant Chuck Robinson, 760-770-0394
- Palm Springs PD: PIO Sergeant Mike Kovaleff, 760-323-8106