FundAmerica Founder Subject of Grand Jury Criminal Probe


Two weeks after defunct FundAmerica Inc. settled a criminal probe by Florida authorities, it was revealed that a Los Angeles federal grand jury is probing a possible case against the firm’s founder, according to court documents.

Court papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, where the company was ordered liquidated almost three years ago, reveal that a grand jury is mulling possible criminal charges against Robert T. Edwards, who owns residences in Newport Beach and Vancouver, Canada.

The U.S. attorney’s office and FundAmerica’s trustee appeared before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James N. Barr to hear his decision on whether members of the company’s former law firm--the Los Angeles office of Baker & McKenzie--would be allowed to testify to the grand jury.


Such testimony probably would violate client-attorney privileges.

But trustee Theodor Albert filed on Thursday a request to Barr for an exemption to that privilege after the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles subpoenaed attorney Joseph P. Powers on Oct. 25, 1993, as part of its probe into possible tax evasion, money laundering, mail fraud and securities fraud, according to court documents.

Barr declined to rule on Albert’s request saying that Albert, as a court-appointed officer, had the authority to waive the privilege himself and did not need to inform the court.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Ronni B. MacLaren declined to comment Friday. Edwards, who attended the court hearing on Thursday, was unavailable for comment.