SANTA ANA – On November 16, 2018, Brandon Stewart, 33, of Newport Beach was sentenced 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. One of Stewart’s victims was a 92-year-old relative who was led to believe investment funds would be put into a large investment pool with more of more than $100 million that would be invested in stocks, which included Facebook and various foreign investments.
When the Newport Beach Police Department began investigating this case, investigators noticed large checks from individuals being deposited into Stewart’s accounts and going out to other people, that led to further investigation that revealed between April 7, 2009, and Jan. 22, 2013, Stewart operated a Ponzi scheme resulting in victims losing in excess of $10.6 million. Stewart used the victim’s funds for personal expenses, which included flights to Las Vegas on a private jet and betting thousands of dollars in casinos.
“Thankfully, through what must have been a complicated investigation, local and state investigators put a stop to this individual who stole from the elderly and a relative,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “This individual also stole from Californians by not paying taxes for three years.”
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.
Stewart was arrested in Texas on October 8, 2014.
Assisting in the investigation were the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.