Pair posed as Malibu doctor’s caregivers, dosed him with psychedelics and stole millions, feds say
A hairstylist from Fresno and a yoga instructor have been arrested on suspicion of stealing nearly $3 million from a doctor while posing as his caregiver and friend, federal prosecutors said.
Anthony Flores, 46, of Fresno was arrested last week and Anna Moore, 39, who lives in Monterrey, Mexico, was arrested Tuesday in Houston, prosecutors from the Central District of California announced Wednesday.
The couple were indicted by a grand jury Dec. 15 on multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and other charges, according to court documents.
Flores has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but Moore has yet to enter a plea, according to prosecutors.
The couple lived rent free in Dr. Mark Sawusch’s Malibu beach house while they stole money from his personal bank accounts, prosecutors said.
How an L.A. grifter ripped off his best friends and got rich with his sprawling weed scams
L.A. swindler David Bunevacz drove a yellow Lamborghini and posed as a weed mogul as he fleeced friends, his dentist and scores of others in a brazen series of scams
The couple befriended Sawusch, a 57-year-old Pacific Palisades eye surgeon, and moved into his home days after they met him at an ice cream shop in Venice. Sawusch was also a successful investor and had a brokerage account of more than $60 million, prosecutors said.
Flores was a licensed hairdresser and owned a window cleaning business in Fresno. Moore was an actor and ran a yoga studio in Fresno, but they told Sawusch that they would act as his caregivers.
Sawusch operated his medical practice for over 30 years, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by his mother. But he suffered from severe bipolar disorder and around November 2016 badly burned his hands, which left him unable to perform surgery.
By the time he met Flores and Moore, his mental state had deteriorated, according to his mother.
He was voluntarily hospitalized several times between 2015 and 2017, prosecutors said. Flores and Moore gradually took control of Sawusch’s life and personal finances starting in September 2017.
Sawusch experienced a severe mental breakdown and was arrested, prosecutors said. Flores promised to post bail for Sawusch if he would sign powers of attorney over to Flores, who assured Sawusch once the bail was posted he would rescind the legal title.
But he later refused and claimed he wanted to help Sawusch pay for his bills and other finances by keeping the powers of attorney, according to prosecutors.
Taking the stand against their own mother, two children recounted how Heather Barron and Kareem Leiva turned their Antelope Valley residence into a house of horrors, forcing them to do grueling workouts, fight one another and guzzle hot sauce.
Between September 2017 and May 2018, Flores and Moore allegedly transferred money from Sawusch’s bank accounts to their own personal accounts, prosecutors said. The couple isolated Sawusch from his mother and sister, who live in Florida, and prohibited his friends and county case workers from making visits, authorities said.
Throughout their time at Sawusch’s home, Flores and Moore sent text messages to his mother, asking her to not try to contact her son.
“I have given you clear instructions how best to serve your sons [sic] wishes,” Flores wrote. “[S]ilence is golden.”
The couple allegedly took Sawusch to the doctor to receive weekly infusions of ketamine and also provided him marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and LSD, prosecutors said.
While Sawusch was under the influence of LSD, Flores allegedly changed the two-step authentication on a brokerage firm account and instead changed the information to his own phone number, giving him access to the $60-million account, according to prosecutors.
The LSD caused Sawusch’s mental state to deteriorate further, and he then evicted Moore and Flores from the home, prosecutors said.
Tom Girardi, disgraced L.A. lawyer and ‘Real Housewives’ spouse, indicted on fraud charges
The once-vaunted L.A. trial attorney accused of of swindling millions of dollars from clients was indicted by federal grand juries in two states.
The couple continued to watch over Sawusch with video cameras installed at the beach house, authorities said. They watched Sawusch from a luxury hotel room paid for with his money.
Four days before Sawusch died, Flores initiated two wire transfers of $1 million from Sawusch’s brokerage account to Flores’ own bank account.
Sawusch died in May 2018. Prosecutors did not disclose how he died.
Flores and Moore moved back into Sawusch’s beach house after his death, according to court documents, and allegedly withdrew large amounts of money from his bank accounts.
The couple held a memorial at the home but did not inform any of Sawusch’s family and hid his financial documents from them. The couple also removed records from the beach house and falsely claimed that Sawusch promised to give them a portion of his estate and the beach house after his death, according to court documents.
His family sued to reclaim the stolen money, but Flores and Moore allegedly violated multiple court orders to return any funds or documents. They allegedly tried to launder the money by fraudulently transferring the funds through multiple bank accounts. Flores and Moore settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay back $1 million but have not done so, prosecutors said.
Moore and Flores could face decades in prison if convicted on all the charges.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.