Oxnard engineer Raul Marvin was convicted in Superior Court last week of defrauding 25 local investors of about $250,000 through a sham rubber plantation scheme he operated for three years.
A Ventura Superior Court jury found Marvin, 50, guilty of 13 counts of grand theft, 14 counts of securities fraud and two counts of embezzlement after it deliberated for five hours Friday.
Marvin could receive up to seven years in prison for his three-year con game when he is sentenced Nov. 14 by Judge Barbara Lane.
Between 1983 and 1986, Marvin claimed to have harvested more than 16,000 acres of a little-known rubber plant called guayule, which he had hoped would someday dominate the rubber market.
Investors paid him for stock in two companies, Guayule Farm Corp. and Guayule Research Development Corp., and provided him with money to pay for land he said he was leasing from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
However, Marvin instead used the money primarily for personal expenditures--a new Cadillac, trips, jewelry--and made only token payments to a real association of guayule researchers, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Rebecca S. Dean, who prosecuted the case.
Attempts by stockholders to view the property invariably failed; despite their adherence to Marvin's directions, they could find no sign of his two purported plantations in Ventura and Riverside counties.
Marvin also told investors that he had a net worth of $4.8 million without mentioning that he had just gone through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, Dean said. He claimed that the money came from an inheritance in probate in a tribal court in South Dakota.
But a judge from that court, flown in to testify, disavowed any knowledge of Marvin or relatives and said no such case was pending in his court. Other statements were similarly disproved by prosecution witnesses, Dean said.
Dean also said Marvin presented the court with false documentation for his claims, including a land lease between him and the Western Tribal Assn., a group he fabricated.