October 20, 2020
On September 29, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California charged Lewis Wallach, the former CEO of a Marin-based company called Professional Financial Investors (PFI), with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According the announcement, Wallach had been running PFI, a real-estate firm that owned approximately 70 properties throughout Marin and Sonoma counties in northern California, as a Ponzi scheme for years. Wallach managed PFI along with its founder, raising over $350 million from investors since 2015 even though they knew its revenue from its PFI properties could not meet its obligations to pay interest and distributions to investors. The District Attorney also claims that Wallach pocketed over $26 million from PFI for personal use, including personal investments in land and commercial development projects in Texas and California and in oil and gas exploration and development projects. The scheme was only discovered after the death of PFI’s founder in May 2020.
If convicted, Wallach faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, a $250,000 fine, and possible restitution.