Yacht broker convicted of fraud

A former Dana Point yacht broker was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison for stealing more than $1.3 million from 26 people in a fraudulent investment and sales scheme, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Edward Sellers Fitzgerald, 62, pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft from an elder, 19 counts of using untrue statements in the purchase or sale of a security, 17 counts of grand theft, and 14 counts of issuing non-sufficient checks with the intent to defraud.

Between 2007 and 2009, Fitzgerald was the owner of a Dana Point yacht brokerage as well as Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters, prosecutors said in a statement.

Fitzgerald defrauded some of his victims by securing loans from friends and acqu­ain­tan­ces under the false pretense of purchasing boats for resale, said prosecutors.

In addition, prosecutors added that Fitzgerald defrauded some of his victims by securing loans from friends and ac­qu­ain­tan­ces under the false pretense of purchasing boats for resale.

He failed to purchase boats as promised, used new investors to pay off previous investors, and stole the money to pay his personal expenses, prosecutors said.

In July 2009, Fitzgerald cleaned out his bank accounts and moved away without telling any of his victims or providing his new location or contact information.

Several of the victims reported the theft to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, who investigated this case with the Orange County District Attorney's Bureau of In­ves­tiga­tion.

Fitzgerald was arrested in May 2013, in Delray Beach, Fla., and extradited to Orange County that same month.

Courtesy of Orange County Register

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