What You Need to Know

  • Robert Louis Cirillo targeted low-income Hispanic investors as part of a fraud scheme, prosecutors said.
  • The ex-broker pleaded guilty to securities fraud, filing a false tax return and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
  • He faces up to 43 years in prison if he receives the maximum sentence.

A former broker pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal criminal charges for running a securities fraud scheme in which he targeted low-income Hispanic investors and defrauded over 100 of them out of more than $3.2 million, according to Tracy Wilkison, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California.

Instead of investing his clients’ money, Robert Louis Cirillo, 61, of Chino Hills, used the funds for his own personal expenses, including credit card payments, a trip to Las Vegas, casino expenses and two vehicles: a Jeep and an Alfa Romeo.

As part of a plea agreement, Cirillo pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana to one count of securities fraud, one count of filing a false tax return, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Wilkison said.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter scheduled a Sept. 6 sentencing hearing where Cirillo will face a maximum sentence of 43 years in federal prison, according to Wilkison. Her initial complaint against Cirillo was filed June 6, according to court documents.

Ronald D. Hedding, a lawyer in Encino, California, who represented Cirillo, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on why his client decided to plead guilty as part of the plea deal.

Cirillo was licensed broker from 1989 to 2002, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website. The last of the 10 firms for which he was a broker was First Allied Securities.

According to his plea agreement, from 2014 to 2021, Cirillo deceived over 100 clients by lying to them that he would be investing their funds in short-term construction loans that would pay large return rates ranging from 15-30% for a period of up to 90 days.

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