By Andrea Papagianis
Four years after fleeing Dana Point, a man accused of defrauding local residents of more than $1.5 million is expected back in Orange County next week after being arrested in south Florida, officials said.
Edward Sellers Fitzgerald, 60, a former Dana Point yacht broker was detained by authorities in Delray Beach, Fla.—north of Boca Raton—last Friday, on charges he defrauded 26 people through yacht investment and sales schemes, said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Fitzgerald elected not to fight extradition and is expected to return by May 23, Emami said. Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will travel to Florida and escort Fitzgerald back, where he will be booked into a county jail, she said.
A near three-decade veteran of the yacht brokerage industry, Fitzgerald is charged with using his former business, Dana Island Yacht Sales and Charters, as a fraudulent investment and sales operation. Authorities charge Fitzgerald with securing loans from investors under the false pretense of purchasing and selling boats.
Fitzgerald emptied his bank accounts and disappeared in July 2009, but authorities were able to locate him in Florida last year, said Sean O’Brien, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case. He is charged with more than 50 felonies, including 17 counts of grand theft and eight counts of theft from an elder.
If convicted on all charges, Fitzgerald could face up to 58 years in state prison.
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