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SIMI VALLEY : 6th Person Convicted in Pyramid Scheme

A former Simi Valley police officer on Monday became the sixth person convicted of running an illegal pyramid financial scam when he pleaded no contest to a felony charge in Ventura County Superior Court.

Michael Cratch, 24, is the only former police officer charged in the scheme so far, but prosecutors said Monday that their investigation is continuing.

“The book is still open on this one,” Deputy Dist. Atty. James D. Ellison said.

Three other officers have also resigned from the force over the pyramid scheme. During Ventura County grand jury hearings, more than a dozen police officers either admitted that they knew about the scam or refused to testify about it.

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Cratch will probably avoid a prison term and be placed on probation when he is sentenced Dec. 18, Ellison said, citing Cratch’s lack of a criminal history and the nature of the crime.

Cratch and five men were arrested earlier this year after investigators raided a meeting where the six were organizing the scam, which required each to recruit new investors willing to part with $1,000 to get in on the pyramid.

Gregory Jones, Mark McCord, Kevin Novack, Richard Sayball and Roland Tamparong either pleaded guilty or no contest to misdemeanor counts of participating in a pyramid scheme. All are also expected to receive probation.


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