Petaluma Ex-Realtor Pleads No Contest to $20 Million Ponzi Scam

Arrested in 2012, Aldo Baccala entered plea this morning to securities fraud, bilking elderly.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
By Bay City News

A Petaluma man is pleading no contest in Sonoma County Superior Court today to bilking dozens of investors of $20 million through a Ponzi scheme.

Aldo Baccala, 73, agreed this morning to plead no contest to 141 charges that include making false statements to sell securities, grand theft, and elder/dependent financial abuse.

He is pleading to each individual count before Judge Gary Medvigy who said he would sentence Baccala to no more than 20 years in prison in return for his plea.

Baccala, a former real estate agent, used his Petaluma-based company Baccala Realty, to raise millions of dollars from more than 50 investors for business ventures including assisted living facilities, a car wash and other businesses in California, South Carolina and other states.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General's Office said many of the victims were elderly and knew Baccala and his family for many years.

Baccala used the victims' money to invest in the stock market and to cover margin calls and trading losses, prosecutors said. Baccala lost $8 million in the stock market between 2003 and 2008, and as his debt grew, he promised new investors annual returns of up to 27.5 percent, prosecutors said.

Baccala used money from new investors to cover payments to earlier investors, but he informed investors in November 2008 he could no longer make promised monthly payments to them, according to the complaint.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office began an investigation in January 2009, and Baccala was arrested in June 2012.

Baccala is in custody in the Sonoma County jail. His trial was scheduled to start later this month. He faced 160 years in prison if convicted of all the counts.

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