Hairstylist Who Defrauded Malibu Eye Doctor Sentenced to Prison

Hairstylist Who Defrauded Malibu Eye Doctor Sentenced to Prison

A view of Malibu, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service
City News Service

6/18/2024

Updated: 6/18/2024

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LOS ANGELES—A hairstylist was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison June 17 in downtown Los Angeles for defrauding a Malibu ophthalmologist out of more than $2.7 million before the doctor’s death, then attempting to siphon an additional amount exceeding $20 million from the estate.
Anthony David Flores, 47, who goes by the name of Anton David, pleaded guilty last year to nine federal felony charges including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mr. Flores’s co-defendant and then-romantic partner, Anna Rene Moore, 40, previously pleaded guilty to seven of the indictment’s 12 charges. The yoga instructor and actress, who last lived in Monterrey, Mexico, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24.
The couple were living in Fresno, where they operated a window cleaning business and yoga studio when they first met Dr. Mark Sawusch by chance at a Los Angeles-area ice cream parlor in June 2017.
Mr. Sawusch was a physician and successful investor who was worth more than $60 million, but who suffered from mental illness and had lost the ability to care for himself. He had recently been released from the hospital after several involuntary psychiatric stays, according to Mr. Flores’ plea agreement.
Within days of meeting Mr. Sawusch, Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore moved into his beachfront Malibu home—rent free—and slowly took control of his life by pretending to be his new best friends and caregivers, the DOJ said.
In September 2017, after Mr. Sawusch suffered a severe mental breakdown resulting in his arrest and detention in Los Angeles County jail, Mr. Flores fraudulently induced him to sign powers of attorney granting Mr. Flores control over his finances.
From September 2017 to May 2018, Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore diverted the victim’s funds to their own bank accounts, isolated Mr. Sawusch from his family and longtime friends, and provided him with drugs, including marijuana and LSD, court papers show.
In the final days of the physician’s life, Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore gave him LSD, which caused his mental state to severely deteriorate, federal prosecutors stated.
While Mr. Sawusch was under the influence of LSD, Mr. Flores changed the two-step authentication feature on the doctor’s $60 million online brokerage account after previously changing the phone number listed on the account from Mr. Sawusch’s phone number to his own, according to the indictment in the case.
Four days before Mr. Sawusch’s death and while he was still under the influence of the LSD, Mr. Flores initiated two $1 million wires from the physician’s brokerage account to accounts that Mr. Flores controlled, including Mr. Flores’ personal bank account, according to the DOJ.
Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore then left the victim, who by this time was in mental distress and had evicted them from his home, prosecutors said. From a luxury hotel paid for with stolen funds, Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore watched the ophthalmologist’s deteriorating mental condition on video cameras installed throughout the Malibu beach house, federal prosecutors say.
In May 2018, Mr. Sawusch died in his Malibu home at the age of 57. Following his death, Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore moved back into the Malibu home and withdrew large sums of money from the dead man’s accounts. They also concealed information about the victim’s finances from his mother and sister, both of whom lived in Florida. This prompted the victim’s family to file a lawsuit, which uncovered the fraud.
In the ensuing lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore violated multiple court orders ordering them to return the funds stolen from the victim. They attempted to launder the fraudulent proceeds by funneling the money through multiple accounts to thwart Mr. Sawusch’s estate and court-appointed receiver from recouping the money.
The lawsuit was settled with Mr. Flores and Ms. Moore agreeing to repay the doctor’s estate $1 million, which they have so far failed to do, according to the DOJ.
“This defendant heartlessly lined his own pockets while his victim mentally and physically declined, and ultimately died,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “Financial fraudsters can prey on anyone, even the most financially successful among us. We hope that our efforts to convict and now sentence this defendant bring some solace to the victim’s family.”
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