Brighton man sentenced to 5+ years for stealing $1.3M from friends, family

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DENVER — A Brighton man was sentenced to more than five years in prison for stealing about $1.3 million from his friends and family.

Anthony Bueno, 45, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado said Tuesday that Bueno conspired with his girlfriend to launder the money, which was taken from friends and family through two different wire fraud schemes.

In his first scheme, Bueno told people they could earn returns of up to 2,500% by investing in surety bonds related to government construction projects.

“To bolster his claims, Bueno provided notarized documents, including one promising an investor that surety bonds purchased for $500,000 were actually worth $18.9 million,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In the second operation, Bueno convinced relatives that if they gave him money, he could help them start a government contracting business.

“He later told those same relatives that because he had helped create the contracting business while having his own government contracts, he was under investigation for collusion and needed money to defend himself,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Bueno laundered the money through accounts his girlfriend controlled. He spent the money on cars and personal expenses. He also used the money to pay for restitution he owed for a prior conviction.

“Mr. Bueno is nothing more than a con-man who preyed on family and friends alike,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn in a statement issued Tuesday. “Others thinking about these scams should heed this sentence and think twice before engaging in such crimes.”

FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips said Bueno’s sentencing serves as an example of how federal authorities will prosecute people who defraud others for personal gain.

“We will continue to protect our citizens and hold accountable criminals who victimize investors,” Phillips said.

Bueno’s girlfriend, Cara Church Underwood, pleaded guilty to her participation in the surety bond scheme. Her sentencing is set for Feb. 27.

Bueno’s 63-month sentence will be served after a separate 30-month sentence that was imposed two weeks ago for his role in a separate case in which he bribed a federal official.

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