United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Paul Anthony Vasquez, 27, of Santa Clarita, to nine years in prison for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering. Vasquez was ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution and to forfeit assets seized by federal agents, including over $950,000 in cash and a 1.5 carat diamond ring.
According to court documents, Vasquez was the principal operator of Maxwell, Turner and Associates Inc. (MTA) in Bakersfield. MTA claimed to provide debt collection services. After a client signed a contract, MTA would provide them with false information about legal proceedings, the whereabouts of the debtor, the ability to collect the funds, and the need for additional fees. When MTA collected money from the debtor, they would not send the money to their clients. Once the client stopped sending money to MTA, they would stop communication with the client. The losses to victims of this scheme were more than $1 million.
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Vasquez is the third defendant to be sentenced for this scheme. On November 28, 2011, Darrian Jeffrey Summers, 41, of Taft, and Stefan Lemar Miller, 32, of Santa Clarita, were sentenced by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii for charges related to the MTA scheme. Summers was sentenced to eight years in prison and Miller was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.
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This case was the product of an extensive investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the Bakersfield Police Department, and the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark J. McKeon and Stanley A. Boone prosecuted the case.