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The trial begins Tuesday for Dana Point man accused of stealing more than $800,000 from people he talked into investing in a phony clothing re-sale scheme, authorities said.
Shaine Joseph LaVoie, 46, is charged with 12 felony counts of grand theft, 10 felony counts of using an untrue statement in the purchase or sale of a security, and one felony count each for theft from an elder, forgery and writing a non-sufficient funds check, as well as sentencing enhancement allegations for property loss over $150,000 and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, a May 4 news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.
LaVoie—who in 1992 co-founded Ezekiel Clothing Co. but left the company in 2003—is accused of convincing investors to buy into a fraudulent $1 million quick-turnaround, high-profit deal involving the purchase of a shipment of designer jeans being sold to a Japanese buyer. LaVoie solicited money from friends and acquaintances between February and November of 2004, promising them their investments in the off-season closeouts would turn a 100 percent profit in less than three months.
When investors began asking for their money, LaVoie allegedly lied to them, saying an issue with customs had delayed the shipment, the statement said.
He then started a Ponzi scheme—luring in new investors—to pay early investors and forging documents to trick investors into believing his scheme was bona fide and licit.
LaVoie stopped returning calls from the dozen victims he is accused of stealing $800,000 worth of investment funds from and using their money to fund a “lavish lifestyle” that included Las Vegas trips and Rolex watches.
According to the statement, in 2007, LaVoie is also accused of taking money from two additional victims—$10,000 from a William H. and $4,200 from Brandon W.—promising high return on investment in a fake clothing line called Agnus and then writing a $15,000 bad check to Brandon W. from a closed bank account.
If convicted, LaVoie faces a maximum sentence of 24 years and four months in state prison.
Opening statements are set to begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5 in Department C-34 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
The case number is 06HF0973 and is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Megan Wagner of the Major Fraud Unit.