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Man gets 10 years for Ponzi scheme, stealing benefits

August 26, 2011

A Laguna Niguel man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for stealing more than $900,000 from investors in a Ponzi scheme involving false promises to purchase, fix up and sell distressed homes to make a profit.

William Warren Baker, 59, also pleaded guilty to one felony county of grand theft from the U.S. Social Security Administration. He stole $6,100 worth of Social Security benefits intended for his mother, Sara Jo Mowery, 82, after she went missing in January 2009.

Baker took money from at least 10 investors between Jan. 20, 2006, and May 7, 2008. Investors were told their money would go toward buying and refurbishing distressed homes, and Baker would then sell them at a higher price. Baker failed to follow through, instead using the money for his own personal expenses.

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The Orange County Sheriff's Department uncovered Baker's fraud while investigating Mowery's disappearance.

Mowery is still missing, and an investigation into her disappearance is ongoing.

—Kelly Parker

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