Gaston Canten, a prominent Cuban-American businessman who used his ties in the community to bilk victims out of their hard earned money, has officially been charged and has agreed to plead guilty
to his part in running a $135 million Ponzi scheme
. Canten's scheme went so far that even Belen Jesuit School became a victim.
Canten ran Royal West Properties for thirty-years, and rose to prominence and riches. He sate on the advisory board of Belen Jesuit School, and his son Gaston I. Canten served as the majority whip in the Florida House of Representatives.
Once the real estate crash hit Canten begin lying to investors about the state of his company's finances. In classic Ponzi-style he began paying off older investors with money from new investors.
"The Cantens used their prominent standing in a close-knit Cuban-American community to ruthlessly exploit vulnerable elderly investors who trusted them with their life savings," Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC's Miami regional pffice, said in a released statement at the time of Canten's indictment. "They portrayed themselves as a pious couple closely involved with educational and religious organizations, while in reality they were living lavishly off money from defrauded investors."
Canten's wife, Teresa, was mention in a civil complaint filed by the SEC but has not been formerly charged with any crimes. Criminal charges against Gaston Canten were not officially made until today, and he has already agreed to plead guilty.
Canten now faces a maximum of five years in prison followed by three year of probation.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.