A Folsom man pleaded guilty today to a federal fraud charge in connection with one of the largest Ponzi schemes in recent Sacramento history.
Anthony Vassallo, who ran an investment firm called Equity Investment Management and Trading Inc., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, although prosecutors agreed to recommend a term of 16 years, according to court papers.
Vassallo was charged in the case in 2009.
According to his plea agreement, Vassallo's investors lost nearly $44.9 million in the scheme.
Vassallo's company promised investors returns of 36 percent a year through a sophisticated stock-market trading system.
The case included a bizarre subplot. Three men and a woman were charged with impersonating federal agents in an effort to recoup money on behalf of Vassallo's victims. The four individuals pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and were sentenced to probation.