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Calif. men arrested in alleged $110M finance fraud

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The ex-owners of a now-defunct real estate firm in
Southern California have been arrested after an indictment alleging a Ponzi
scheme that left their business bankrupt and investors out more than $110
million.

A U.S. attorney’s statement says that 66-year-old Michael Stewart of Phoenix
and 63-year-old John Packard of Long Beach were arrested Wednesday. Packard
pleaded not guilty. Stewart is scheduled to be arraigned in Arizona later this
week. It’s not clear whether they have retained attorneys.

Each was charged with multiple counts of mail fraud, bank fraud and bankruptcy
fraud.

In 1999 they co-founded Pacific Property Assets, which refinanced and resold
apartment complexes in California and Arizona.

Prosecutors say after the housing market downturn the men started raising money
from new investors to pay off old ones, and themselves.

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