Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

An Orange County businessman and his accountant wife are due in court Wednesday on charges of defrauding investors — including a former Major League Baseball player — and stealing more than $3 million from people they met in church.

Steven Andrew McKinlay, 58, and Kristi B. McKinlay, 56, both of Coto de Caza, are scheduled to be arraigned on 10 felony counts of using untrue statements in the purchase or sale of a security, plus counts of grand theft and use of a device in a fraud scheme.

The complaint filed Dec. 14 includes sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and causing property damage with loss over $1.3 million, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The couple are accused of victimizing more than 10 people, including the ex-ball player, whose name was not immediately available, along with a family friend who came into money through a personal injury and a cancer patient who wanted to secure an inheritance for his family, prosecutors said.

Their  investments  ranged  from  $22,500 to more than $700,000.

Many of the victims had allegedly been associated with  the defendants through the church they attended — a scheme known as affinity fraud, according to Orange County’s top prosecutor.

“Affinity fraud most commonly happens in church, where victims are asked to invest with a false sense of trust in an investor who preaches  morals and ethics,” District Attorney  Tony Rackauckas said. “I want to remind the public that affinity fraud can also happen  with people having the same nationality, race, or are  living in senior living communities.”

He added, “Nobody is exempt from affinity fraud and people should vet everyone before investing, especially those they have a lot in common with or they think they know well and can trust.”

The McKinlays, who are in custody in lieu of $3 million bail, face up to 23 years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged, prosecutors said.

—City News Service

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