A Temecula man who admitted defrauding a Canadian mining company has asked to withdraw a guilty plea that could send him to federal prison for five years.
A hearing today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to sentence Rob Nite has been canceled. Instead, a judge is expected to decide Dec. 18 whether to erase Nite's admission that he committed one count of mail fraud.
If the court allows Nite to withdraw his guilty plea, federal authorities plan to file four other mail fraud charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Whittlesey said.
Prosecutors dismissed the other charges against Nite as part of a Sept. 9 plea bargaining agreement, Whittlesey said.
If convicted of all five charges, Nite, who remains in federal custody without bail, could be sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined up to $ 1.25 million, Whittlesey said.
The charge that Nite pleaded guilty to stems from an April loan agreement his Temecula company, Manor Financial Resources Inc., made with Greenstone Resources Ltd., a publicly traded mining company based in Toronto, Canada. Nite's company agreed to loan $ 2.5 million to Greenstone in exchange for a $ 75,000 fee, according to court documents. Nite was paid the fee, but Greenstone did not receive the loan money, authorities said.
The other four charges detailed in a federal indictment filed in June stem from an agreement between Nite and Empire Financial Ltd. of Los Angeles. Nite's company agreed to secure a $ 25 million loan for Empire and obtain collateral worth $ 25 million in exchange for $ 500,000 in fees. From March to June, Nite sent counterfeit bank documents to Empire that indicated a $ 25 million loan had been approved, according to court records.
Nite also has been indicted in the U.S. District Court in Montana for a similar crime allegedly committed in 1990, Whittlesey said. After the California case is resolved, Nite will face two wire fraud charges and one conspiracy charge in Montana, the federal prosecutor said.
Meanwhile, a New York private investigator who worked with federal authorities said Nite and the company he operated out of his Temecula home bilked companies and investors out of more than $ 35 million.
Steven Rambam alleged Nite was involved in eight criminal conspiracies, which include printing counterfeit certificates of deposit that could eventually cost investors in numerous states and countries about $ 100 million.
"This thing is monstrous and it's getting bigger," Rambam said. "There are people still out there waiting for their CDs to mature. "
Nite's attorney, Deputy Federal Public Defender Neison Marks, could not be reached for comment.
Rambam said he was hired by investors who became concerned about financial losses. The investigator said he presented his findings to Secret Service agents, who conducted their own probe before seeking a federal indictment.
The Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting and other crimes, would not comment because charges are still pending against Nite, said Jane Garfield, assistant to the special agent in charge of the agency's Los Angeles office.
Whittlesey said evidence gathered by the private investigator was used to indict Nite. The government chose not to indict Nite on some of the charges alleged by Rambam because they would take longer to investigate and be harder to prove in court, the prosecutor said.