Newport Coast man may face prison, $120,000 repayment to fraud victims

A Newport Coast man could face more than a year in prison for selling nonexistent items like Rolex watches online and using the money to fund his lifestyle, according to federal court documents.

Prosecutors last week asked a U.S. District Court judge to sentence Daniel Peter Brucato to 15 months in prison and order him to pay almost $120,000 in restitution to five small-business owners he has admitted bilking.

According to a plea agreement filed in January, Brucato admitted emailing his victims saying he had clothes, hats and watches available at wholesale prices.

But the items didn't exist, and when buyers wired Brucato money, he would use it for rent, credit card bills and payments on his Porsche SUV, prosecutors said.

As part of his guilty plea, Brucato said he used the scheme six times between April and December 2011. He was arrested in August 2013.

"Unlike frauds where the victim is a bank or large corporation, the defendant's crimes have a more pronounced effect because the victims are individuals that run small businesses," prosecutors said in a filing last week.

That document, however, requested a prison sentence on the lower end of the 15 to 21 months the law allows in such a case.

Prosecutors asked for the 15-month term partially because Brucato "admitted his conduct and has readily accepted responsibility, signing a plea agreement approximately five months after his arrest in this matter," according to their filing.

The document also asks that Judge David O. Carter order Brucato to pay restitution of $119,850, the exact amount of the fraud.

Brucato's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 6. He is free on $20,000 bail.

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