Man behind aviation Ponzi scheme sentenced to 11 years in prison, must pay $7.4 million in restitution

Victor Farias, 48, pleaded guilty to one count of felony wire fraud in late January

Victor Lee Farias shown in a previous mugshot from an arrest in an unrelated case. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A Boerne man who targeted retired San Antonio police officers, other first responders and their families in a massive Ponzi scheme was sentenced in federal court this week to more than 11 years in prison.

In addition to serving the 135-month federal prison sentence, Victor Farias, 48, must also pay back his victims more than $7.4 million in restitution, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Thursday.

Farias carried out the fraudulent investment scheme from 2013 through early 2019, according to records from the federal 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.

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Farias, however, only ever bought a single aircraft engine and sold it for no profit, according to a DOJ press release about his sentencing.

“Through deception and greed this defendant stole from his victims, some of whom were retired public servants. He deprived many of these victims of the restful retirement they worked all their lives to achieve,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “We hope the Court’s sentence provides some measure of justice to the victims and sends a strong message to other fraudsters that their criminal activities will not be tolerated in our community.”

“The defendant betrayed the trust of almost 90 people as he swindled them out of their retirement savings to finance his fraudulent investment scheme and his luxurious lifestyle,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division. “This case is all the more repugnant because so many of the victims were first responders who had spent their careers putting their lives on the line to protect our community.”

Regulators said Farias used nearly half of the $14 million raised to pay investors Ponzi-like returns.

He was accused of funneling another $2.7 million into a friend’s gas station project, according to the SEC suit.

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.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.