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Former Radio Host Gets 17 Years for Mail Fraud

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former radio and television financial talk show host Richard (R.G.) Reynolds, who was found guilty by a federal jury last month of 13 counts of mail fraud and two counts of witness tampering, was sentenced Monday to 17 years in prison.

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real in Los Angeles also ordered Reynolds, who is president of a Laguna Niguel company, to repay his victims $420,955, plus interest.

“This is a very significant sentence in the investment fraud area,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Ronni B. MacLaren, the lead prosecutor on the case.

Reynolds, 44, who has remained in custody since his trial began Oct. 29, has said he plans to appeal.

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At the height of his popularity, Reynolds, who touted himself as a financial expert and self-made millionaire, had a large following of listeners to his syndicated “Reynolds Rap” radio program.

Prosecutors charged that Reynolds, running his operations from two Burbank companies, R.G. Reynolds Enterprises and R.G. Reynolds Financial Network, used his shows as part of a scam to persuade listeners--mostly inexperienced investors--to give him their money under the pretense that he would invest it in the stock market.

But prosecutors said Reynolds used most of the investors’ money for his business and personal expenses, and mailed investors phony account statements saying they had earned returns ranging from 48% to 1,000%.

More than 70 investors lost a total of $1.3 million through Reynolds’ investment schemes, prosecutors said.

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Reynolds’ Burbank companies were shut down by federal postal authorities in 1987. The Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a civil judgment against Reynolds in 1989 for securities laws violations, and Reynolds was ordered to repay investors $5.7 million, plus interest. Reynolds has appealed, and the money has not been repaid. Reynolds’ estate is now in bankruptcy liquidation proceedings.

Reynolds is now president of a Laguna Niguel company, Flow-Ventures Ltd., and until recently it continued to broadcast his radio shows and promote investment programs. In arguing for a stiff sentence, MacLaren contended that Reynolds has continued to defraud investors through Flow-Ventures.


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