Twin brothers accused of scamming local sports fans - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Twin brothers accused of scamming local sports fans

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/ CNS) – A pair of twin brothers, with a criminal record for defrauding customers with travel scams, were accused of a similar crime again Wednesday when a federal indictment against them was unsealed.

Anthony Donald Casias and Leopold Ronald Casias Jr., 62,  are accused of ripping off local sports fans by getting clients of their company to pay in advance for game tickets, travel, lodging and transportation, then failing to deliver the services promised.

The duo is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. According to United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy, clients of the defendants' company, L&T Sports Events Inc., paid in advance for travel and tickets to out-of-town sporting events, such as a New York Giants home game or a football game at Notre Dame.

The 62-year-old brothers told clients that they would purchase specific flights, game tickets and hotel accommodations for them for a set amount of money, prosecutors said.

The clients paid the advance fees asked of them, but the defendants failed to provide nearly all of the services contracted for by their victims, instead diverting the payments for their own personal or business expenses, the indictment alleges.

According to the indictment, several clients were stranded in such locations as Oakland, Chicago and Hoboken, N.J. without game tickets, a hotel room, and, in at least one instance, a valid return trip home to San Diego.

News 8 found multiple former customers of L&T Sports Events posting complaints online as recently as January 2012, claiming the Casias brothers defrauded them out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

One poster wrote, "They used my credit card and put $5717.62 of unauthorized charges! I won the judgment against them in Superior Court. They have REFUSED to pay and they made themselves judgment-proof, almost impossible to collect from."

Another person claimed that they were left footing the bill for a trip to London to see the NFL play overseas after booking with L&T Sporting Events: "On arrival at our hotel, we were informed that L&T had not paid for our hotel room. Part of the ‘pre-paid package' was, among other things, the flight, hotel room, and game tickets. The tour rep repeatedly assured us that the bill was being taken care of, however, when we checked out 5 days later, the bill had still not been paid..."

On one occasion, the defendants allegedly used an individual's credit card to pay for another L&T Sports client's trip to Hawaii.

According to the indictment, while another client was at an out-of-town location, the Casias brothers had instructed them to pay a second time for tickets to the game they had traveled there to see and for other supposedly pre-paid services.

Clients frequently did so upon the defendants' false promises that the victims would be reimbursed, prosecutors say. Once the clients returned to San Diego, the defendants avoided their phone calls and failed to refund their money, according to the indictment.

News 8 visited the Casias brothers' home in Barrio Logan seeking comment, but nobody answered. A neighbor said he witnessed FBI agents and San Diego Police officers raid the home on Wednesday morning, but did not see anyone being arrested. The neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said he was shocked at the accusations because he knew the Casias twins as friendly and generous neighbors who lived with and cared for their elderly mother.

Anthony and Leo Casias were convicted of a similar travel scam nearly two decades ago. In that case, they promised travel and tours to East Coast cities for several San Diego-area schools, only to leave the students and faculty with more than $200,000 in losses.

At that time, the brothers' company was called East/West Travel and Tours, Inc. According to court documents from 1990, students from several local high schools and middle schools paid East/West up front for group tours, but the Casiases pocketed the money leaving the students with none of their trip-related expenses covered.

The students, parents and the schools paid out of pocket or held community fund raisers to come up with additional money. Several other schools canceled similar trips booked with East/West after realizing the company had defrauded them.

In 1990, Anthony Casias and Leo Casias were sentenced to 30 months and 27 months in prison, respectively, for those crimes and ordered to repay $284,499 to the schools.

Two years later the Casiases appealed that judgment and on May 18, 1988, they filed for bankruptcy. According to court documents, the duo listed about $135,000 in assets and $1.4 million in debts.

The new charges against the brothers include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge if convicted.

Anyone allegedly victimized by L&T Sports should contact the FBI at (858) 565-1255.

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