Final Ward pyramid scheme defendant sentenced
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Dec 26, 2013 | 7139 views | 5 5 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The third and final defendant in the Ward Real Estate Ponzi scheme was sentenced to state prison Dec. 19, several years after unknowing investors were duped out of millions of dollars.

According to Deputy District Attorney James Lewis, Sharon Lee Graham, 59, was sentenced to four years in state prison. A jury found her guilty of two counts of security fraud at the end of a six-week trial in San Joaquin County Superior Court that concluded Sept. 20.

The conviction of Graham, who was the bookkeeper for Tracy-based Ward Real Estate from 2003 to 2007, followed the July 2012 convictions of CEO Leesa Marie Ward and her colleague Alison Ann Jensen, both 47.

The two women testified against Graham at her trial, Lewis said.

Graham solicited a $100,000 investment from one of her other bookkeeping clients, the Vink Bros. Partnership of Tracy, and $340,000 from her sister, Sheila Collishaw of San Jose.

Lewis told the jury during the trial that Graham had gained the trust of her investors by telling them that they would earn a 12 percent rate of return, that she was an investor herself and that she would let them know if the business had any problems or if they should withdraw their money. When she solicited their money in 2006, Lewis said, she already knew the business was failing and was trying to save her own investment.

The business collapsed in 2007, and Ward Real Estate filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009.

In addition to Graham’s two victims, Ward and Jensen had collected investments ranging from $45,000 to $1 million from 33 other victims.

“A lot of people lost a lot,” said Lewis on Monday, Dec. 23. “It was a long, hard fight, but it was worth it. I think the victims are satisfied.”

He said he has vowed to help Graham’s victims find her assets and gain restitution.

“She never accepted responsibility, even in the end,” he said. “She never offered anything — and forced us to go to trial.”

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or
Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 30, 2013
What happened to the other two involved? A slap on the hand for testifing?
December 30, 2013
I believe they got 3 years house arrest instead of jail time for testifying. But they received a lot of other stipulations as well.
December 30, 2013
Leesa Marie Ward and Alison Ann Jensen were sentenced to three years in San Joaquin County Jail with an option to apply for an in-house arrest program with an ankle monitor August 9, 2012.

Read more: Tracy Press - Two former Ward Real Estate officers sentenced to jail for Ponzi scheme
December 28, 2013
Blame it on the bookkeeper.
December 30, 2013
She was the only one who knew exactly what was going on with the money from day to day.

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