A former California police officer who ruined the lives of a number of investors to the tune of $7.5 million and was labeled “evil” by a federal court judge, received a 14-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay full restitution to his victims.
Christopher Lloyd Burnell, 51, promised his investors hefty returns and gained their trust partly due to his resume that included a stint as a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy. Burnell also laid claim to winning millions of dollars in court judgments from holding a patent on a unique air-cooled, bullet-proof vest.
While his time as a cop may have been true, the patent on the vest story was definitely not, resulting in Burnell pleading guilty to 11 counts of wire fraud and another two counts of filing a false tax return.
The scam ran from 2010 to 2017, with Burnell duping 72 investors. The $7,592,491 in ill-gotten funds provided an extravagant lifestyle for the former cop that included losing more than $2 million at San Manuel Casino, traveling on private jets, and entertaining “Hooters calendar model girlfriends,” according to the DOJ press release.
Some of Burnell’s victims lost considerable sums of money resulting in numerous accounts of divorce, depression, lost homes, and suicidal thoughts. The scammer doubled down when investor funds were drying up, falsely stating that his wife was in dire need of cancer treatment.
“Simply put, no words can explain the level of emotional and physical havoc wreaked on victims’ lives” by the defendant, prosecutors said.
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