Leo Wheeler, 56, Roseville, California, was sentenced by United States District Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr. to four years and three months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release for defrauding investors in a real estate project.
According to court documents, Wheeler defrauded more than 10 investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars by submitting approximately 85 fraudulent invoices for work he falsely claimed he had performed on a 30-lot subdivision known as Creekside Oaks Estates, Lake County, California. Wheeler used three fictitious companies, Kenneth Gutman Trucking, SNC Solutions, and California Maintenance, to funnel funds to himself and to other projects. During an interview with an IRS Special Agent, Wheeler admitted he had falsified numerous invoices and wrongly diverted investor funds.
In sentencing Wheeler, Judge Burrell said that he was troubled by Wheeler‘s submission to the court of an 11-page letter that minimized his conduct and claimed he had never engaged in a scheme to defraud. “Not a wise move to submit to the court a misleading document when you are going to be sentenced,” Judge Burrell said.
The judge granted the government’s motion to take Wheeler into custody rather than allowing him to self-surrender at a later date. “I have serious, serious problems with his credibility,” Judge Burrell said in ordering Wheeler into custody.
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the sentence.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Russell L. Carlberg prosecuted the case.