Scammers sentenced

Local couple get five years each

A former Chico couple was sentenced on Tuesday, March 11, for a securities fraud scheme that cost more than 250 investors a total of $18.4 million.

Robert Eberle, 75, and his wife, Barbara, 66—who now live in Oxford, Ga.—pleaded guilty in 2011 to running their scam from 2001 to 2006 as owners of Lexus Financial in north Chico and as sales representatives for the now-defunct Secure Investment Services in Redding.

The couple peddled “viaticals,” or fractional shares of a person’s life insurance policy, promising investors that doctors had made estimates of when the policyholders would die, according to The Sacramento Bee. If the policyholders lived longer than projected, a bond firm in Michigan would pay the investors their guaranteed returns. The doctors, however, were fakes, as was the bond firm.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. in Sacramento sentenced both Eberles to five years in prison and ordered them to pay $13.2 million in restitution.