A former Dana Point yacht broker been arrested in Florida on charges that he bilked more than $1.5 million from clients, the Orange County District Attorney’s office announced Friday.
The DA has charged Edward Sellers Fitzgerald, 60, with eight felony counts of theft from an elder, 19 felony counts of using untrue statements in the purchase or sale of a security, 17 felony counts of grand theft and 14 felony counts of issuing non-sufficient checks with the intent to defraud.
Delray Beach Police caught up with Fitzgerald Friday and noted he had a $1.6 million warrant out for his arrest. Orange County officials expect him to be exptradited.
Between 2007 and July 2009, Fitzgerald is accused of being the owner of a Dana Point yacht brokerage, Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters, from which he allegedly defrauded 26 victims of more than $1.5 million in various investment schemes related to the buying and selling of yachts, according to a press release from the O.C. District Attorney’s office.
Spokeswoman Farrah Emami told Patch that while she can’t give specifics, many of the victims are from Orange County.
In one of the schemes, Fitzgerald allegedly convinced friends to loan him money so he could purchase yachts for resale, according to the DA’s office. But he never bought the boats.
Instead, investigators believe he would get new investors to pay off the old investors and skim some money to pay for personal expenses, the press release states.
In another scheme, Fitzgerald would sell boats, but allegedly divert the sales proceeds to his own accounts, then reimburse his clients with bad checks, the DA said.
Fitzgerald is also accused of taking down payments for boats for his personal use and then failing to secure the sale or return the deposit, the DA press release states.
In July 2009, investigators believe that Fitzgerald cleared out his bank accounts and got out of town without providing forwarding information to clients-turned-victims, the DA’s press release said.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 58 years in prison.