A former California sheriff’s deputy, Christopher Burnel, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
Burnel deceived victims into investing 5.6 million dollars with him by claiming that he was an entrepreneur who had made millions from lawsuits against the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and Kaiser Permanente. He also told potential victims that he had sold a patent to an air cooled, bullet proof vest, and made a fortune through investments in small businesses and money lending.
He promised his victims returns as high as 100% and had them invest a small amount to begin with, which he returned with big dividends, to gain their trust.
None of the investment opportunities Burnel claimed existed, and he spent the money on maintaining a life of luxury for himself and his girlfriends. He spent $500,000 on trips on private jets, $70,000 on Louis Vuitton merchandise, $175,000 on luxury cars and an apartment lease for his then girlfriends. He also lost more than two million dollars gambling at the San Manuel Casino.