This may be one of the worst cases of real estate fraud we’ve seen in California yet.
Aldo Joseph Baccala, a 71-year-old Sonoma County man, was charged on Tuesday with 167 felony counts including securities fraud, elder abuse and grand theft once his $20 million dollar Ponzi scheme was discovered.
The scheme began when Baccala told elderly customers of his company, Baccala Realty, and assured them that he would invest their money in real estate and give them 12 percent returns on their investments. Many of the victims had known Baccala and his family for many years. Instead, he used the money to pay early investors and invested in the stock market.
Between 2003 and 2008, Baccala lost $8 million in the stock market. He found new investors and promised them a return of 27 and a half percent. However, once the stock market plunged in 2008, Baccala told his investors he could not make the promised monthly payments.
The Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch began investigating Baccala in January 2009, Attorney General Kamala Harris and her team later joined. Both DA’s will be prosecuting Baccala.
Baccala is currently being held at the Sonoma County Adult Detention Facility with his bail set at $2 million.