Arraignment Scheduled in California PTA Moms’ Alleged
Ponzi Scheme Case Last summer, California prosecutors charged three women, Maricela
Barajas, Juliana Celeste Menefee, and Eva Perez, with 22 felony counts
of theft and securities fraud in connection to an alleged multi-million
dollar investment scheme.
This week, the women waived their right to a preliminary hearing in the
case. The arraignment has been scheduled for Jan. 26 in Pomona Superior Court.
Barajas, Menefee, and Perez were members of the PTA at Armstrong Elementary
School in Diamond Bar, CA. According to prosecutors, they used social
functions and school events to solicit more than $14 million in fraudulent
investments from approximately 40 people over the course of two years.
The women allegedly claimed that they possessed the exclusive right to
sell milk from Alta Dena Dairy to Disneyland, Disney-affiliated hotels,
and other retailers.
The women allegedly told investors that cash investments would be used
to expand the Alta Dena Dairy contract, and that investors could make
“extraordinary” returns of up to 100 percent. Prosecutors
say the women used their PTA memberships to gain the victims’ trust.
The scam allegedly unraveled when the women stopped making Ponzi-style
payments to investors.
If convicted, Barajas, Menefee, and Perez each face up to 13 years in
prison. Perez is already serving a nine-year prison sentence in San Bernardino
County for her role in a similar Ponzi scheme. Both Menefee and Barajas
are currently out on bail.