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Walnut Creek Investment Company Official Arrested For Defrauding Lenders

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Fraud Arrest

A 57-year-old Lafayette man has been arrested on suspicion of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering – crimes allegedly committed while serving as managing director of a Walnut Creek private equity investment firm.

Stephen Lopez of Lafayette, managing director of Lighthorse Ventures, LLC, was arrested March 28, according to information released Monday by United States Attorney Melinda Haag.

According to the accompanying indictment, Lopez allegedly solicited loans on behalf of Lighthorse, drafting and signing promissory notes in which he promised to repay the principal and interest of 10 and 12 percent per year in a timely fashion. Lopez also allegedly produced and distributed brochures which falsely listed Lighthorse’s ownership of companies, real properties, oil wells, and further overvalued and misrepresented the company’s holdings.

Lopez, investigators allege, did not inform prospective lenders that he had previously failed to return the principal and interest to the majority of prior lenders, and that he would soon be required to make a final payment of $600,000 to Lonestar Trust as a result of a civil settlement agreement between Lopez and his former clients.

Investigators further allege that Lopez used the money he received from lenders on behalf of Lighthorse to pay a personal debt of $600,000 he owed to clients and to make a $50,000 payment to a consultant.

Lopez made an initial court appearance before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on Friday. He was released on a $100,000 bond. Attempts to reach Lopez at his Lafayette phone number were unsuccessful Monday.

If convicted, Lopez faces 20 years in prison for each count of mail and wire fraud, a $250,000 fine or twice the amount of gain or loss, whichever is greater, three years of supervised release, and restitution to those he allegedly defrauded, Haag’s office reported.