A Paso Robles man was charged Thursday with federal fraud and money laundering offenses for allegedly bilking victims who invested in Central Coast real estate projects and siphoning money for other purposes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
James Hurst Miller Jr., 63, the former president of the Atascadero-based Hurst Financial Corp., was charged with four crimes in U.S. District Court. Those allegations are mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement to a bank.
The case alleges that Miller solicited investments in the Beacon Road and Vista Del Hombre real estate development projects in Paso Robles, as well as the Salinas River real estate development project in Templeton.
The solicitations were fraudulent because the funds were not used to develop those projects, prosecutors say. Federal prosecutors claim Miller failed to disclose that he was using investor money to pay off loans and other development projects as well as made false statements relating to collateral when applying for a loan.
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If convicted, Miller would face a maximum sentence of 80 years in federal prison.
The case against Miller is the result of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service with assistance from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.