SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — A Boerne man was sentenced to more than a decade in prison for swindling almost 90 people, including retired first responders, out of more than $7 million in a Ponzi scheme.
48-year-old Victor Farias pled guilty to one court of wire fraud in January and was sentenced this week to 135 months in prison for the Ponzi scheme he operated under the business name Integrity Aviation & Leasing from 2013 to 2019. He was also sentenced to pay $7,424,927.10 in restitution.
Officials said that under IAL, Farias persuaded victims to invest in IAL by telling them he was investing the more than $7.4 million to purchase aircraft engines that would be leased to airlines for profit. Farias reportedly only purchased a single engine and sold it a short time later for no profit.
“I don’t really even have the words to describe how sorry I am and how shameful, and how much I disgraced my family, my friends, and all of the investors,” Farias told the judge Wednesday. “There was never any intent whatsoever to have any type of fraudulent activity.”
Farias’ lawyer George Dombart told the court the 48-year-old suffered from multiple mental health disorders after a 25-year-old work incident where Farias witnessed a decapitation in an elevator and was stuck with the body for two hours. Dombart said his mental disorders, which include depression, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideations “contributed to his demise.”
“I think this was a failed business and he panicked,” Dombart said during the sentencing. “He was trying to abide by the terms of his agreements that he made with these investors.”
Multiple retired San Antonio police officers who defrauded in the scheme spoke at the sentencing hearing, including 71-year-old Charles “Mike” Ross who lost a $1 million inheritance in the scheme.
“Thirty-three year police officer, I’ve been duped,” Ross said during the sentencing hearing conducted Wednesday via video conference.
Farias used the money instead to reportedly pay himself a salary, commissions and to cover his personal expenses in addition to paying out false investment returns to prior investors and to finance the construction of an unrelated convenience store.
“The defendant betrayed the trust of almost 90 people as he swindled them out of their retirement savings to finance his fraudulent investment scheme and his luxurious lifestyle,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division. “This case is all the more repugnant because so many of the victims were first responders who had spent their careers putting their lives on the line to protect our community.”