The District Attorney of Ventura, California has secured more convictions in a collections case involving five individuals who ran a series of phony collection agencies that would not remit payments received from individuals to the agencies’ clients.
The defendants — Timothy Burke, Jr., Deisi Rivera, Angela Covarrubias, Veronica Ventura, and Elizabeth Olvera — were charged with felony counts of grand theft, theft from an elder, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit false advertising. The group was also charged with a white collar crime enhancement of stealing more than $100,000. The defendants used a number of different fraudulent collection agencies, which went by the names of Nationwide Debt Busters, Walker Adams & Associates, Financial Service Bureau, Steven Chasity & Associates, and Rutter Riesman & Associates.
Burke and Rivera had already plead guilty and were sentenced to six- and five-year sentences in a California state prison. Ventura has also plead guilty and is due to be sentenced today. Olvera is due to be sentenced this month and Covarubbias will be sentenced in January. The group was originally charged back in November.
Burke and Rivera started the scam in 2013, according to prosecutors. They convinced clients to place collection accounts with them on a contingency basis, but did not provide any collection services. If an individual happened to make a payment, the agency kept the money and did not remit it to the client. Burke and Rivera used the proceeds to fund their personal expenses. Ventura joined the scheme in 2015 and acted as general manager of the agencies. Covarrubias and Olvera started working with the group in 2016 and were involved in managing the business and taking money from victims.