Authorities Arrest Board Game Creator : Investigation: The Dana Point resident is charged with 48 counts of grand theft and securities fraud.
A creator of board games based on the lives of the rich and famous was charged Monday with 48 counts of grand theft and securities fraud in connection with a Michael Jackson game that authorities said was never manufactured.
Stacia Alden, 46, was arrested near her Dana Point residence, marking the end of an 18-month investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Operating out of her offices near Dana Point Harbor, Alden sold limited partnerships worth at least $212,500 in the “Michael Jackson Infinity” game to 52 investors from Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said sheriff’s investigator Curtis Hoopes.
The Orange County district attorney’s office filed charges in 16 of those cases, saying they were “the strongest and most provable,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Joseph D’Agostino said.
D’Agostino said Hoopes and other investigators uncovered evidence that investors in several other states and Canada and Australia were also bilked out of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors could not pursue those cases as they were out of their jurisdiction, he said.
The cases filed are only “the tip of the iceberg compared to the other things her company was doing,” D’Agostino said. “She was taking money from large numbers of different people. We could have gone on forever and ever investigating this case, but we had to draw the line somewhere.”
In the end, D’Agostino filed 16 counts each of grand theft, selling securities without permission and making false statements in the sales of securities.
Alden is being held at the Orange County Women’s Jail in Santa Ana in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Alden is the creator of the Elvis Presley game, and 14 others based on the rich and famous.
Her most popular board game, “The Golden Triangle,” landed her on Robin Leach’s television show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” In the Art Deco-style board game, players buy and sell dozens of the most exclusive and glamorous Beverly Hills shops. A deluxe leather, gold and enamel version sells for $1,500. It boasts computerized dice and 18-carat stretch limousines with precious stones for playing pieces.
Investigators say Alden’s latest venture was the Jackson game. She had sent a prototype to the pop star, who approved the idea because the game sought to “promote peace among children of the world,” D’Agostino said.
But a tentative deal with Jackson’s agent fell through after a check written for $100,000 by Alden to secure the rights could not clear the bank, D’Agostino said. The sheriff’s investigation also revealed that Alden had declared bankruptcy in her native Kansas after collecting thousands of dollars from investors in another board game, he said.
D’Agostino said that despite the failure of the Jackson deal, Alden continued to sell limited partnerships dubbed “Michael Jackson Ltd.” and “Michael Ltd.” She gave potential investors glossy brochures, financial statements, press clippings and videotapes falsely proclaiming that her board games were mass-produced and generated millions of dollars in sales, he said.
Said Coopes: “She got to know most of her victims through word of mouth and these folks thought she was quite a convincing person. They believed that she could make money for them.”
Authorities said sales of the limited partnerships occurred between July, 1989, and June, 1990, adding that Alden used the proceeds to support herself and her two children.
“She had a lifestyle that would easily spend this amount of money,” Coopes said. “She tends to get in tight with the Beverly Hills crowd.”
Alden is expected to be arraigned in Municipal Court in Laguna Niguel today. She faces up to six years in prison if convicted of the charges, D’Agostino said.
Times correspondent Len Hall contributed to this report.