Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A former yacht broker from Dana Point pleaded guilty Monday to cheating 26 people out of $1.3 million in an investment scheme and was immediately sentenced to seven years in prison.

Edward Sellers Fitzgerald, 62, accepted a plea deal from an Orange County Superior Court judge to resolve his case. He admitted eight counts of theft from an elder, 19 counts of using untrue statements in the purchase or sale of a security, 17 counts of grand theft and 14 counts of writing bad checks with the intent to defraud, all felonies, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

During the fraud scheme from 2007 through July 2009, the defendant owned Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters.

According to prosecutors, Fitzgerald committed various investment schemes, such as getting loans from friends to buy boats for resale, but never getting the boats and spending some of the money on himself.

Fitzgerald also got new investors to pay off old investors.

Fitzgerald sold yachts on behalf of clients while embezzling the profits and either failing to pay them back or sending them checks that bounced, prosecutors said.

Fitzgerald took money for deposits on some yachts and then failed to follow through or return the deposit, according to prosecutors.

Fitzgerald withdrew all the money in his bank accounts and moved out of state without telling any of his investors or clients and not providing forwarding information, authorities said.

Fitzgerald has been in custody since May 2013, but it was not immediately clear how many days credit he amassed for his time behind bars awaiting trial.

— Wire reports 

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