By Lydia V. Solis
Ex-auto magnate charged with
credit fraud of up to $300 million
Grand Wilshire Group CEO Eminiano ‘Jun’ Reodica Jr. disappeared after visiting the Philippines on a trade mission with then-California Gov. George Deukmejian.
Reodica faces a maximum penalty of 144 years imprisonment and fines of $12,750,000.
LOS ANGELES – A fugitive for more than two decades, Eminiano A. Reodica Jr., 68, is now in official custody.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation sought arrested the former president and chief executive officer of Grand Wilshire Group of Companies November 27, 2012, in California. The court has appointed Deputy Federal Public Defender Moriah Radin as his lawyer.
Trial is set for January 28.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had sought information from the public in finding Reodica Jr. for multimillion dollar criminal fraud involving nine lending institutions (Philippine News, Week of March 15-21, 1995).
At a detention hearing on December 12, Reodica’s wife Leticia Coscoluella, ex-wife Hilda Hilao and two siblings requested the court to release Reodica until his court date, but because of the nature of his crimes and being a flight risk, the court had denied the request.
According to court records, Reodica left for the Philippines in 1988, leaving his wife Hilda and four children behind in Glendora, California. Hilda later moved to Seattle, filed for divorce and changed her last name. Also left behind wereReodica’s younger brother and sister, who both worked at Grand Chevrolet.
Reodica lived and worked in Cairns, a city in Queensland, Australia, in the early 90s, according to court records, and became a citizen two years later. He remarried in 1993.
In March 1995, federal prosecutors had unsealed a 51-count indictment originally filed in federal court in Los Angeles in February 1994, charging Reodica and Danilo L. de Castro, then- 48, former GWG inventory manager (both of Glendora, Calif.) with defrauding various banks and savings and loan associations that had extended credit lines to GWG totaling over $300 million. The defendants were also charged with fleecing banks from California to New York from $70 million to as much as $120 million.
If convicted, according to Asst. U.S. Attorney Ronni B. MacLaren, who was prosecuting the case, Reodica faces a maximum penalty of 144 years imprisonment and fines of $12,750,000.
According to FBI special agent Martin R. Regalado of the West Covina office, ten other former employees of GWG were convicted on November 26, 1990, for their roles in the fraud. Two others were charged, but the FBI believed they had fled to the Philippines.
Both Reodica and de Castro disappeared since an investigation into their business practices began in July 1988. Authorities believed they had fled to the Philippines, and warrants for their arrest were issued.
Reodica disappeared after visiting the Philippines with then-California Gov.George Deukmejian on a trade mission. A political activist, Reodica was appointed commissioner by Deukmejian for the California State Dept. of Motor Vehicles.
Authorities gave no update on de Castro.
The ‘American dream’ of one Filipino immigrant had turned into a nightmare for other Filipino immigrants.
‘Jun’ Reodica was one Filipino immigrant who would not be deprived of that ‘American Dream.’ (Philippine News, Week of April 5-11, 1995).
He came to this country in 1971, a native of Pagsanjan, Laguna, with grand academic credentials: summa cum laude in accounting from the University of the East, and a certified public accountant. He was an achiever throughout his early school years -- valedictorian from the grades to high school.
Said a cousin: “His was a rags- to -riches story because he came from a poor family.”
Reodica started as a busboy, then a GM showroom attendant, and after four years, he became vice president of a Southern California General Motors dealership.
In 1978, Reodica mortgaged his home and took out several loans and bought Grand Chevrolet in Glendora, “the largest single source of our sales tax,” said then Glendora Mayor Larry Glenn.
At one time, the Glendora city treasury was collecting $1 million a year from the car dealership which had become one of the largest auto sales companies in the country. With 25 other car dealerships throughout California, all raking up “phenomenal” car sales, Reodica was one visible Filipino.
The L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek as well as the numerous local Filipino publications featured stories about his success.
In 1984, the auto magnate became a member of the influential Economic Development Corporation of Los Angeles, a public and a private company that helps draw business to the country. Reodica served as a member of the board of directors for two years.
But after 10 years as a successful owner of an auto empire representing a big slice of that ‘American Dream’ he became a fugitive, wanted by the FBI, charged with a multimillion credit fraud.
In August 1988, Reodica placed his dealerships under protection of Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws, hounded by angry creditors and investors. Soon after, he was reported to have fled to the Philippines. Overnight, all of his companies were shut down and some 200 employees were left stranded.