Judge slams former cop
After branding an ex-cop “one of the most evil people” he has ever dealt with, US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald handed the California man a 14-year federal prison sentence for defrauding investors out of more than $7.5m.
a requirement to pay back $7,592,491
Judge Fitzgerald sentenced Christopher Lloyd Burnell, 51, on Tuesday. His sentence includes a requirement to pay back $7,592,491. The US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Los Angeles (USAO-LA) shared the ruling on Twitter:
According to the USAO-LA news release, the former cop gambled away more than $2m of his victims’ money at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, formerly known as San Manuel Casino. On May 10, Burnell pled guilty to 11 counts of wire fraud and two counts of filing a false tax return.
The DOJ said that Burnell leveraged his employment background as a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy to “gain investors’ trust.” He then used the cash to fund his “extravagant lifestyle.”
Web of deceit
According to the US Department of Justice, Burnell’s scam relied on convincing victims he was a wealthy businessman. He claimed he had won tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits against his former sheriff’s department and a firm that he sold an air-cooled, bullet-resistant vest to. While both claims were as phoney as a three-dollar bill, they worked a charm.
Burnell’s victims fell for his sales pitch, in which he promised returns of up to 100% on exclusive investment opportunities, repayable in mere weeks. The victims dived right in, some investing hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.
Hooters calendar model girlfriends, gambling, and private jets.”
Alas for the duped, prosecutors explained in a sentencing memo, the “investment opportunities did not actually exist.” Instead, the disgraced ex-officer used the money to maintain “a life of luxury for himself and his Hooters calendar model girlfriends, gambling, and private jets.”
Wheels come off
Burnell’s scam lasted for multiple years until his victims’ money ran out and he couldn’t find any new ones. The ex-cop even squeezed more money out of his victims by falsely claiming he needed loans to pay for his then-wife’s cancer treatment.
According to court documents, Burnell wrecked many of his victims’ lives. The DOJ cites depression, divorce, suicidal tendencies, business failure, forced sale of property, and stopping kids’ college education as some of the negative effects.
“Simply put, no words can explain the level of emotional and physical havoc [Burnell] wreaked on [his] victims’ lives,” prosecutors stated.