SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A former yacht broker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $1.5 million from dozens of victims in an alleged fraud scheme.
Edward Sellers Fitzgerald, 60, formerly of Dana Point, was charged with eight felony counts of theft from an elder, 19 felony counts of 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, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Fitzgerald, who reportedly owned Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters, is accused of defrauding 26 victims from 2007 to 2009.
He allegedly obtained loans from friends who thought he was purchasing boats and used new investors to pay off previous borrowings, according to the district attorney’s office.
In 2009, Fitzgerald allegedly cleared out his bank accounts and lost contact with his investors.
He was arrested earlier this month in Florida.
If convicted, Fitzgerald faces up to 58 years in prison. He’s being held on $1.6 million bail at the Central Jail in Santa Ana.