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Local News in Brief : Laguna Niguel : Accused Businessman Found Dead in Garage

An Orange County businessman apparently committed suicide in his Laguna Niguel home the day before he was scheduled to appear in court and plead guilty to an investment fraud scandal, authorities said Friday.

Richard Murray, 50, was charged, along with James Hoggatt, with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from 38 investors through his Santa Ana investment firm, M.L. & D., Deputy Dist. Atty. Nina Brice said.

Murray’s wife found his body in his car, authorities said. His death was due to inhalation of carbon monoxide fumes in his garage, coroner’s officials said.

In an agreement made with the district attorney’s office, Murray was to plead guilty, Brice said. He also promised to testify against Hoggatt at a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 17.

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In exchange for his plea and testimony, Murray’s sentence would have been reduced from 5 years to 16 months in state prison, Brice said.

“We had four recorded interviews with the D.A., Murray’s attorney and Murray, where he promised to testify,” Brice said. “I made this special appointment to see if he would really come in and make a plea, or if he had changed his mind. I guess he had changed his mind.”


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