Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A man who pleaded guilty to taking part in a nationwide racketeering scheme targeting the elderly, which took more than $300,000 from at least 10 San Diego County residents, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in federal prison.

Jack Owuor, 25, of the city of Paramount in Los Angeles County, was charged along with seven others with taking over $2 million from more than 70 senior citizens across the nation.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the defendants phoned seniors and falsely claimed their grandchildren were in legal trouble and needed money to resolve fabricated issues such as paying for bail, medical expenses or to prevent additional criminal charges from being filed against them.

Prosecutors say Owuor conducted cash pick-ups from victims and also recruited and supervised “mules” to make similar collections. The defendants then laundered the money either by transferring the funds or converting the money into cryptocurrency, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Owuor is the first defendant in the case to be sentenced. Five others have pleaded guilty, while two other defendants remain at large.

In addition to prison time, Owuor has been ordered to forfeit $4,300 in proceeds he received and pay $434,600 in restitution to the victims.

“Today’s sentence, including prison time, demonstrates the gravity of the defendant’s egregious behavior to steal from the elders of our community,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “It is despicable that these fraudsters preyed on a grandparents’ care and concern for their loved ones to line their own pockets.”


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Ellen Bullock