LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two San Fernando Valley men were sentenced to federal prison time for swindling investors, including friends, associates and members of one of the men’s church.
Steven G. Barkus, of North Hollywood, was sentenced to 97 months in prison and Michael A. Lombardo, of Northridge, received a 57-month prison sentence, according to U.S. Department of Justice officials. The two men were also ordered to make restitution to the investor fraud victims of $905,000 and $2,788,778 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Barkus and Lombardo were indicted on 15 counts of fraud and tax violations. The two men were convicted of all counts after a seven-week trial.
“I find your conduct to be absolutely despicable,” U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan said to Barkus during the sentence hearing. “You defrauded close family, friends and you defrauded church members who trusted you, and frankly, there were times when I heard the testimony of these witnesses that it just seemed incredible that they continued to give you money after money because of your staggering ability to con these people.”
Officials say the two men recruited a now-disbarred attorney from Cleveland, Ohio to collect and hide investors’ funds from the Internal Revenue Service with shell bank accounts.