Case # 14CF3038
May 28, 2015
MAN EXTRADITED FROM TEXAS TO FACE CHARGES OF DEFRAUDING VICTIMS AND BANKS IN $13.5 MILLION PONZI SCHEME
*Defendant was arrested in Dallas, Texas and transported to Orange County
SANTA ANA – A man was extradited from Texas to Orange County today to face charges of defrauding more than $10.5 million from victims and nearly $3 million from banks through a Ponzi scheme. Brandon Walton Stewart, 30, Newport Beach, is charged with three felony counts of residential burglary, 24 felony counts of using untrue statements in purchase or sale of a security, two felony counts of financial elder abuse, 126 felony counts of money laundering, 38 felony counts of writing non-sufficient funds, and four felony counts of failing to file a California state tax return. He also faces sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime in excess of $500,000, property damage over $3.2 million, and money laundering in excess of $2.5 million. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 159 years and eight months in state prison and fines in excess of $27 million. The People will request he be held on $13.5 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond at his arraignment. He is expected to be arraigned Monday, June 1, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail Santa Ana.
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’s Office.
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 is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme, resulting in victims to lose in excess of $10.6 million.
Stewart is accused of misleading 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 is accused of committing residential burglary by entering the residence of two of his victims, with the intent to commit a felony or a theft, in order to carry out the Ponzi scheme.
Stewart is accused of using the victims’ funds for personal expenses, which included flights to Las Vegas on a private jet and betting thousands of dollars in casinos.
Between Nov. 28, 2012, and July 3, 2014, Stewart is accused of defrauding banks by writing nearly $3 million in checks from closed accounts or from accounts without sufficient funds. Stewart is accused of failing 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 the defendant is accused of fighting extradition since his arrest. Stewart was transported to Orange County today to be arraigned on the charges.
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 at 1-800-540-3453.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.