Lafayette Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Investors of $1.27 Million
LAFAYETTE, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Lafayette woman pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding investors out of more than $1.27 million.
Catherine Doucet Romero, 52, of Lafayette, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. According to the guilty plea, from March 2007 to July 2009, Romero tricked investors into believing that their money was going to be used to purchase a manufacturing facility and tannery for exotic skin products, to include alligator and stingray. Instead, Romero used the money to pay personal bills and expenses of an unrelated business. The amount stolen in the scheme is $1,271,000.
“Ms. Romero conned individuals into believing that they were investing in a unique Louisiana business, knowing full well that she was going to divert their investment to her personal use,” Finley stated. “This case further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to deter investor fraud in Louisiana.”
Romero faces 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release for the wire fraud count and 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release for the money laundering count. She also faces a $250,000 fine, restitution and forfeiture. A sentencing date was not set.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker is prosecuting the case.