Matthew Pizzolato was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on July 22, 2010 for operating a $19.5 million investment Ponzi scheme involving approximately 180 investors. Pizzolato pled guilty on April 1, 2010 to 27 felony charges, including 21 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of securities fraud, and one count of witness tampering. Pizzolato was investigated jointly by the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Internal Revenue Service, and United States Postal Service, and was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. Pizzolato was a principal of a number of related companies, including Gulf Region Guaranty, Inc., Gulf States Guaranty LLC, Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC, Allegiance Financial LLC, and Pelican Guaranty Group, LLC, which had offices in Baton Rouge, Hammond, Covington, and Lake Charles. Pizzolato admitted to using investor funds for personal expenses including luxury cars, construction of a half-million dollar home, and a $35,000 engagement ring. He also placed funds into high-risk commercial real estate and futures trading without the approval of the investors. Pizzolato further admitted to making lulling payments to investors in an effort to conceal the Ponzi scheme.