MAN SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS IN PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING VICTIMS AND BANKS IN $13.5 MILLION PONZI SCHEME
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced on Friday to 35 years in state prison for defrauding more than
$10.5 million from victims and nearly $3 million from banks through a Ponzi scheme.
Brandon Walton Stewart, 33, Newport Beach
Pleaded guilty on Aug. 17, 2018, to the following felony counts:
- (125) Money laundering
- (38) Writing non-sufficient funds
- (22) Untrue statements in purchase or sale of asecurity
- (4) Failing to file a California state taxreturn
- (2) Financial elderabuse
- Residential burglary
- Aggravated white collar crime in excess of$500,000
- Property damage over $3.2 million
- Money laundering in excess of $2.5 million
35 years in state prison
Circumstances of the Case
- The Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) investigated this case with assistance from the State of California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the Orange County District Attorney’sOffice.
- A Ponzi scheme is when investors are offered high, short-term returns on investments, but instead of the investments generating actual income and legitimate profits, the money from the investors is kept for the benefit of the defendant or used to repay earlier investors.
- Between April 7, 2009, and Jan. 22, 2013, Stewart operated a Ponzi scheme resulting in victims losing in excess of $10.6 million.
- Stewart misled four victims, including a 92-year-old relative, by falsely representing that their funds would be entered in a large investment pool with over $100 million that would be invested in stocks, which included Facebook and various foreign investments.
- He committed residential burglary by entering the residence of two of his victims, with the intent to commit a felony or theft, in order to carry out the Ponzi scheme.
- Stewart used the victim’s funds for personal expenses, which included flights to Las Vegas on a private jet and betting thousands of dollars incasinos.
- Between Nov. 28, 2012, and July 3, 2014, Steward defrauded banks by writing nearly $3 million in checks from closed accounts or from accounts without sufficient funds. Steward failed to file tax returns for 2010 to 2013.
- NBPD began investigating this case and noticed large checks from individuals being deposited into the defendant’s accounts and going out to other people, which led to further investigation.
- The United States Marshals Service arrested Stewart on Oct. 8, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, and transported to Orange County to be arraigned on thecharges.
Anyone who believes an individual or company is not complying with California’s personal income tax or corporate income and franchise tax laws is encouraged to contact FTB at1-800-540-3453.
Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche, Major Fraud Unit