U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of California
(415) 436-7200
October 29, 2014

CEO of Lafayette and Walnut Creek Venture Capital Firm Sentenced to 24 Months in Prison

OAKLAND, CA—Stephen B. Lopez was sentenced today to 24 months in prison, and ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution for his guilty plea to two counts of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas McMahon and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

Lopez, 58, of Lafayette, Calif., was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 21, 2013. He was charged with three counts of mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, and two counts of money laundering. On April 10, 2014, a superseding indictment was returned charging Lopez with obstruction of justice and witness tampering. On Aug. 12, 2014, Lopez pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.

According to the plea agreement, Lopez, who held a law degree from Stanford University, was the founder of Lighthorse Ventures, LLC (LHV), a private equity investment company located in Lafayette and Walnut Creek, Calif. In March of 2008, Lopez needed money to pay off a civil settlement agreement owed by him personally. In order to raise this money, Lopez told victims that LHV needed money to pay off a loan; he intentionally failed to tell the victims that the money LHV received would be used to pay off his own personal debt. Victims wrote checks to LHV, which Lopez deposited into LHV’s bank account. Thereafter, Lopez wrote a $600,000 check from LHV’s bank account to pay off his personal debt.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Jeffrey White, United States District Court Judge. Judge White also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release and ordered Lopez to pay $1.3 million in restitution to the victims.

Maureen Bessette is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Janice Pagsanjan. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS—Criminal Investigation and the FBI.

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