Newport Beach man accused of running $13-million Ponzi scheme

A 30-year-old man from Newport Beach is accused of financing his lavish lifestyle by running a phony investment scheme that netted him more than $13.5 million, authorities said Thursday.

Brandon Walton Stewart told four investors -- including a 92-year-old relative -- that their money would be added to an investment fund with corporate stocks and foreign holdings, according to the Newport Beach Police Department and the Orange County district attorney's office.


But the investors didn't receive the promised returns, police said. With the nearly $10 million Stewart allegedly bilked from investors as part of a Ponzi scheme that began in 2009, he took trips to Las Vegas on a private jet and gambled thousands of dollars in casinos, police said.

He allegedly wrote checks totaling nearly $3 million -- but the accounts were either closed or lacked sufficient funds, police said.

Stewart has been charged with several felonies, including 24 counts of making untrue statements in connection with a sale of a security, 126 counts of money laundering, 38 counts of writing insufficient funds, and three counts of burglary, prosecutors said.

He also faces four counts of failing to file a California tax return after investigators found he did not file tax forms between 2010 and 2013, prosecutors said.

U.S. marshals arrested Stewart in Texas on Oct. 8 and he was extradited to Orange County on Thursday, police said.  He's scheduled to be arraigned on June 1.

If convicted on all counts, Stewart faces more than 159 years in prison and fines totaling $27 million.

Stewart's attorney could not be reached for comment.

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