SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A San Diego businesswoman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy, securities fraud and obstruction of justice charges for taking hundreds of millions of dollars in investor funds intended for loans for liquor licenses and funneled the money into his businesses and for personal purchases.

Gina Champion-Cain, founder and former CEO of American National Investments, was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission last summer of taking millions of investors and telling them the money would be used to fund loans to people seeking California liquor licenses. Instead, she used the money for personal expenses, to fund her other businesses, or to reimburse other investors, prosecutors said.

Champion-Cain faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

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More than $ 400 million from more than 100 investors entered the program between 2012 and 2019, according to the advocacy agreement. Prosecutors said at least one financial institution that invested lost more than $ 1 million and the loss for all investors ranged from $ 65 million to $ 150 million.

According to the plea deal, Champion-Cain used at least $ 60 million in investor funds to cover expenses for its businesses. In addition, funds were used to pay for residences in Mission Beach and Rancho Mirage, at least $ 2 million to pay his own salary at American National Investments, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on sporting events, cars, credit card bills, jewelry. and more.

The plea deal states that the loan scheme that investors were putting money into “was completely fictitious” and that many of the alleged liquor license applicants had not applied for loans from Champion-Cain. Instead, she created bogus lists with the names of the candidates taken from the Alcohol Control Department’s website, according to the plea deal.