Between 2007 and 2009, Edward Sellers Fitzgerald is accused of defrauding investors through his brokerage called Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters.
Fitzgerald is accused of using several schemes to defraud investors of $1.5 million. Fitzgerald allegedly obtained loans from friends and acquaintances under the pretense of purchasing and later reselling yachts. Fitzgerald failed to actually purchase the yachts, but instead used the money to pay off other investors or pay his personal expenses. In some cases, Fitzgerald allegedly acted as the seller of a yacht on behalf of a client. In these instances, he would sell the yacht but either fail to provide victims with proceeds from the sale or provide a bad check that would later bounce. Finally, Fitzgerald is accused of embezzling deposits from victims for the purchase of a boat by failing to secure the sale or refund the deposit.
In July of 2009, Fitzgerald cleaned out his bank account and left without providing any contact information for his victims. Four years later, on May 10, 2013, he was arrested in Delray Beach, Florida by the Delray Beach Police Department.
Fitzgerald is charged with 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. He faces a maximum sentence of 58 years in prison.
The pre-trail for the case will take place today, June 23, 2014 in the Santa Ana courthouse.
For more information on the case, visit www.orangecountyda.com.
For information on how to protect yourself and your investments from fraudulent schemes, visit the FBI website for tips on securities fraud awareness and prevention. Before making an investment, the FBI recommends checking the federal and state securities website to see if any complaints made against the company.