A California man is due in court for a preliminary hearing on fraud charges related to his alleged theft of $1.5 million from 26 victims. According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the man used his company, Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters, to conduct the scheme. They allege that he offered a number of false investment opportunities such as the purchase of boats for resales but he never invested the money he received.
Instead, the complaint alleges that he operated a ponzi scheme, using the money from new investors to pay off old investors while spending some of the money on himself. He is also alleged to have embezzled profits from the sales of yachts and to have paid other clients with checks that bounced. The man is alleged to have later withdrew all of the money in his bank accounts before moving out of state without telling investors.
With an alleged theft of over $1.5 million, the man could face years of imprisonment. For the judge to issue that sentence, the prosecution would need to prove that there was in fact a fraud and that the amount stolen is what they allege.
A defense attorney's role in a case like this is to at least raise reasonable doubt that this was not a fraudulent scheme and that legitimate investments were made, even if money was lost. The defense attorney may also attempt to show that any fraud was for a far lower amount than what was alleged.
Source: Laguna Niguel-Dana Point Patch, "Dana Point Yacht Broker Due in Court on $1.5 Million Fraud Scheme", Peter Schelden, November 19, 2013