MARTINEZ -- A former Sacramento real estate agent has been arrested and charged with securities fraud after he took more than $76,000 from a Martinez family in an investment scheme, authorities said.

Lawrence Grzelak, 54, was arrested Monday, according to the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office. He is charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of grand theft by embezzlement, with one enhancement for an excessive loss, according to deputy district attorney Ken McCormick of the Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Grzelak bought a $469,000 condominium on the island of Maui in 2006, but had fallen behind in the payments by 2010, prosecutors said. The victims, who were not identified, contacted Grzelak about purchasing a vacation home, but were convinced instead to buy into a securities fund that did not exist.

Grzelak promised the victims that their investment would double in value in a month, and they gave him two checks totaling $80,988. Instead, prosecutors say, Grzelak sent the larger of the two checks, for more than $76,000, to American Savings Bank, to pay down his mortgage.

Grzelak faces up to four years and eight months in prison if convicted.

Contact Daniel M. Jimenez at djimenez@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DMJreports.



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