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Arraignment Scheduled in California PTA Moms' Alleged Ponzi Scheme Case

David P. Meyer

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.