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Man Charged With Defrauding Fellow Friars Club Members

Joel Burakoff, who allegedly defrauded fellow members of the Friars Club in a multimillion-dollar investment swindle, was charged Monday with eight counts of grand theft, culminating a yearlong investigation, authorities said.

Burakoff, 56, a former member of the prominent Beverly Hills social club’s board of directors, is accused of abusing his position to recruit wealthy victims who put money into Univest Home Loan. The Gardena-based firm used funds from private investors to finance inner-city real estate and business loans, authorities said.

He faces nine years and eight months in prison if convicted on all charges, and is scheduled to surrender in Los Angeles Municipal Court on Jan. 10, said prosecutor Tom Wenke of the district attorney’s office.

Wenke said the charges against Burakoff stem from allegations by nine investors who lost a combined $506,500 with Univest between 1994 and early 1996. He said the total amount of missing funds remains unknown.

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Neither Burakoff, of Woodland Hills, nor his attorney, George Buehler, could be reached for comment.


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