A former fugitive who oversaw car dealerships before fleeing the country in the late 1980s was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for a fraud scheme that caused more than $64 million in losses to financial institutions, including a San Diego-based bank that collapsed as a result.
Eminiano “Jun” Reodica Jr., 72, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to 26 federal charges of bank fraud and making false statements to financial institutions on the eve of trial in 2015.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero called the defendant’s scheme, in which he used car contracts to con financial institutions, “extremely serious,” saying it caused “much disruption, much heartache” to “too many victims to count.”
Reodica preyed upon members of his Filipino community as well as numerous federally insured financial institutions in perpetrating a scheme that resulted in more than $90 million in total losses to both individuals and financial institutions, the judge said.
Reodica fled the United States in the summer of 1988 and has been in federal custody since he was arrested in late 2012 at Los Angeles International Airport during a layover while traveling from Australia to Canada.
“The scale of the fraud is virtually unparalleled,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum, noting that Imperial Savings of San Diego subsequently failed and went into receivership based on the losses sustained as the result of the fraud.
Reodica’s “rags to riches” story, as outlined in press reports in the 1980s, described how he got his start as a busboy in Los Angeles restaurants. Before fleeing Los Angeles, he was president of the Grand Wilshire Group of companies, which operated dozens of dealerships including Grand Chevrolet, then the third-largest car dealership in the country.
When investigators began probing the business as it was collapsing in 1988, the Filipino-born entrepreneur vanished before reappearing in Queensland, Australia, in the early 1990s under the name Roberto Coscolluela.
According to his plea, Reodica admitted engaging in fraudulent schemes and making false statements to at least five banks, including Union Bank, Imperial Savings, First Los Angeles Bank, ManilaBank and First Central Bank, from 1984 to 1988. Specifically, Reodica admitted to promising the same car contracts as collateral to two different banks at the same time.
The scheme involved directing employees to forge customer signatures on car contracts and then promising the forged contract to a second bank, and repossessing and reselling vehicles without informing the banks.
Reodica also admitted to hiding from the banks that customers were delinquent on their car loans and making his employees sign for car loans for vehicles that they were not really buying so that Reodica could put more money into his businesses. Prosecutors contend the scheme caused nearly $50 million in losses to the banks in the 1980s.
As a result of Reodica’s fraud and false statements, the Grand Wilshire Group and Grand Chevrolet collapsed into bankruptcy in August 1988 when Reodica fled to his homeland, prosecutors said.
—City News Service
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