Man gets 7 years in securities fraud, tax evasion

When several Beverly Hills investors told stories of being conned by a suave, heavy-set man who claimed to be former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s brother in media reports a few years ago, a sternly-worded notice appeared on the man’s website.

“Just as power abhors a vacuum, modern journalism apparently abhors any type of due diligence and fact checking before scurrilous allegations are repeated as fact,” said the notice posted on the “official site” of Alfredo Trujillo Fox, threatening legal action against his accusers. “Kindly govern yourself accordingly.”

On Tuesday, Fox pleaded guilty to grand theft, securities fraud and tax evasion for defrauding those investors by promising huge returns for bogus business opportunities, then seemingly disappearing with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Fox, 67, was sentenced to seven years in state prison and ordered to pay $460,000 to seven victims, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He was also ordered to pay $117,000 to the state Franchise Tax Board.

Fox was arrested in January and charged with 15 counts each of grand theft, unqualified sales of securities, misrepresentation in sales of securities and two counts of tax evasion. He faced a maximum 27-year sentence.

As part of his plea deal, all but two counts each of grand theft and fraudulent sales of securities and one count of tax evasion were dropped.

From March 2006 to August 2007, Fox took between $18,000 and $350,000 from his victims, according to a probation officer’s report. To some, he promised parcels of land in a mega-resort project in Mazatlan, Mexico, and to others he offered an “exclusive course into navigating Mexico’s political network,” the report said. One woman gave Fox lump sums of money eight or nine times because he told her she had to match other investors in order to stay in the project.

In all, he cheated his victims out of $1.2 million, according to the report.

His victims told The Times that Fox lured investors by boasting of lofty connections and displaying signs of his own wealth, driving luxury cars and dining at high-end restaurants. They said he asked for short-term loans, saying his money was held up with overseas investors or because of the Patriot Act.

More than 20 years ago, Fox was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Arizona after investors there and in Florida said he defrauded them by claiming to be a lawyer with high-level family connections in Mexico. He served six years before he was released, according to Arizona prison records.

Although Fox is a legal U.S. citizen, the investigator on Fox’s criminal case believed his citizenship was “obtained by questionable means,” according to the probation report.