Thursday, June 20, 2024

Man pleads guilty to defrauding millions from deceased Malibu doctor using drugs, deception

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A 47-year-old Fresno man pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing millions of dollars with his former girlfriend from a Malibu doctor in an elaborate scheme involving deception and psychoactive drugs before his death in 2018.

Anthony David Flores, also known as Anton David, pleaded guilty to nine felony violations for his role in the scheme, including wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. His ex-girlfriend, Anna Rene Moore, 40, had pleaded guilty in August to seven felony violations in the same case, according to Flores’ plea agreement released by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2017, Flores and Moore met ophthalmologist Mark Sawusch, a wealthy Malibu doctor and savvy investor with a net worth of $60 million. Sawusch had been experiencing severe episodes of mental illness that had led to his hospitalization and later his arrest.

Within days of meeting Sawusch, federal prosecutors said, Flores and Moore moved into his home and began pretending to be his caregivers and friends. They lived with Sawusch from September 2017 until his death in May 2018.

According to the plea agreement, Flores convinced Sawusch to grant him power of attorney during a severe mental breakdown that September, which ended in his arrest. The move was meant to be only for Flores to pay Sawusch’s bail, but the power was never revoked after his release from jail. Flores used the power of attorney to open bank accounts in Sawusch’s name and gain access to his money, prosecutors said.

Days before Sawusch’s death, Flores and Moore gave him LSD, which sent Sawusch’s mental health into a tailspin, authorities said. While Sawusch was under the influence, Flores changed the two-factor authentication on Sawusch’s brokerage account to go to Flores’ phone, then initiated two $1-million wire transfers that ended up in his and Moore’s bank accounts.

Sawusch died alone in his home that Memorial Day weekend. The plea agreement revealed that before his death, Flores and Moore had been surveilling Sawusch via the security cameras in his house from a luxury hotel in Santa Monica.

After his death, Flores and Moore continued to withdraw money from his accounts until Sawusch’s mother and sister sued them. The funds were frozen, and Flores and Moore attempted to salvage the funds through various money-laundering schemes.

In late 2018, Flores and Moore claimed Sawusch had promised them his house and one-third of his estate but was unable to change his will before his death. The ensuing litigation over Sawusch’s estate resulted in the pair withdrawing their claims and agreeing to repay the estate $1 million, which has never been fulfilled, according to authorities.

The pair moved to Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they later split up. In December 2022, a Los Angeles grand jury indicted both of them on suspicion of defrauding Sawusch. Flores was arrested at his home in Fresno, and Moore was arrested at a Houston airport. Both have been in federal custody since January.

Flores faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years for each fraud count, 10 years for each money-laundering count and up to 20 years for the conspiracy charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 26, while Moore’s sentencing is set for Jan. 22.

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