SAN ANTONIO – The mastermind behind a Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims out of millions of dollars they believed were being invested in aviation engines pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud in federal court in San Antonio, according to records from the case.
Victor Lee Farias, 47, entered his plea via video conference, after waiving his right to have the plea heard in person by a judge.
Farias, who is from Kendall County, carried out a fraudulent investment scheme from 2013 through early 2019, according to records from the criminal case and a separate Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed against him last year.
Farias, while owner of Boerne-based Integrity Aviation, told investors in multiple states their money would be spent on aircraft engines and other parts which would then be leased or resold to the major airlines.
Investors, many of whom were retired first responders, were promised a return on their investments of between 10-12 percent per year, according to case records.
Federal regulators, however, could find no record that a single aircraft engine had been purchased by the company since 2015, according to the SEC lawsuit.
Regulators said Farias used nearly half of the $14 million raised to pay investors Ponzi-like returns.
He’s accused of funneling another $2.7 million into a friend’s gas station project, according to the SEC suit.
Farias was charged with wire fraud last year, and the criminal paperwork was unsealed in mid-December, according to federal court records.
One victim, the widow of a San Antonio Fire Department captain, provided the KSAT 12 Defenders records last summer showing she invested $380,000 in Farias’ company, a vast majority of which she was never able to recoup.
She was one of 50 investors who later filed suit against Farias in Bexar County, court records show.