Two men pleaded not guilty Thursday to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims in Orange County in what investigators characterized as a Ponzi scheme.
Brian Lee Kissinger, 49, of Irvine, and Kenny Rojas, 41, of Mira Loma, are charged with a dozen felony counts of making an untrue statement or omission in connection with a purchase or sale, and face sentencing enhancements for aggravated white-collar crime between $100,000 and $500,000 and aggravated white-collar crime exceeding $500,000.
Newport Beach police Det. Shawn Dugan said in a court filing that the two were engaged in a "scam resembling a Ponzi scheme."
They are accused of "recruiting unsuspecting victims to invest in buying liens on distressed real estate properties," Dugan said.
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The alleged victims invested in Kissinger's company, Aria Management Group, and "wrote large checks as part of their investment in the company," Dugan said.
The defendants "misrepresented the company and the investments, causing the victims to lose their money as a result," Dugan alleged.
Kissinger is accused of causing $832,000 in losses to victims, while Rojas is accused of causing $642,500 in losses, Dugan said.
The two were ordered to return to court for a pretrial hearing Oct. 11 in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.