21-page complaint details “Ponzi scheme” allegations against Clovis man


Seth Depiano, featured here in a story aired years ago on CBS47, a Giants fan and valley guy.

Then, talking about baseball playoffs.

“I schedule my work around it, my moods are around it, it’s up and down,” Depiano said then. “It’s torture, it’s always been torture.”

Now accused of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

“Telling people, ‘Give me your money and I’m going to make you rich,'” former federal judge Oliver Wanger said.

Allegations spanning 21 pages.

The first property detailed in the complaint, an apartment complex near Fresno’s Fig Garden Village, which investigators say, Depiano sold for almost $800,000, without even owning.

The complaint goes on to list two other specific properties in Fresno, with alleged sales totaling more than $2 million, then detailing a civil judgment against Depiano, with a price tag of $1.5 million.

FBI agents say, Depiano used a wire transfer of more than $2 million dollars just four days prior, to pay up.

Investigators then say less than three months later, investors gave Depiano $13 million dollars as part of a new company he spearheaded, focused on rehabbing distressed Fresno properties.

Wanger has seen Ponzi schemes before. He says this case is more complicated.

“He had phony deeds, he had records of properties that didn’t exist, he had, this is all alleged of course,” Wanger said.

The complaint even says Depiano sent fake rent and loan payments to investors, allegedly caught on surveillance stealing a notary’s stamp while they were busy with another transaction.

In 2012, Depiano was gaining attention for something else: then named to Business Street Media Group’s 40 under 40 list for his company, “Sober Guys Inc.”

“A real humble guy, real humble and he was excited for the nomination,” Business Street Media president Lance Cardoza said.

Cardoza only met Depiano that night, but says, his work at the time seemed honorable.

“We felt he was doing something good for the community,” Cardoza said. “And if we remember, during those days, Chief Dyer was struggling with fighting the DUI issues.”

Officials say, Depiano now, could be the one behind bars.

The complaint also says Depiano told family he was entering the witness protection program and would be meeting with the FBI.

Wanger tells us Depiano could even see as many as 23 years if convicted.

Depiano was in court today in Las Vegas. 

Reporting in Downtown Fresno, Megan Rupe. 

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