A financial planner accused of stealing more than $2.8 million from elderly Californians — telling them they were investing in tax-exempt bonds and instead taking their money for his personal use — was arraigned Friday in Orange County on related felony charges
Hitomi Tsuyuki, 54, of Coto de Caza, was charged with 93 counts of grand theft, 78 counts of the use of untrue statements in the sale of a security, 29 counts of theft from an elder, and one count of the use of a scheme to defraud, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
He also faces sentencing enhancements for causing over $2,500,000 in property damage, over $500,000 in aggravated white-collar crime, and the loss of more than $100,000. Tsuyuki faces a theoretical maximum sentence of 163 years and four months if convicted on all counts.
His bail was set at $3 million.
In December, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Tsuyuki from associating with FINRA members and ordered him to pay $188,958 plus interest in restitution to customers for stealing their funds and failing to respond to requests for information.
In March, a FINRA arbitration panel ordered Tsuyuki to pay one family of investors more than $370,000 in damages, including $150,000 in exemplary damages for fraud.
The district attorney accused Tsuyuki of encouraging victims to buy municipal bonds, having them make checks out to his company, and then depositing the money into his own accounts for personal expenses. He is also accused of creating fake statements to reassure victims that their investments were safe.
According to the district attorney’s office, many of the victims had known Tsuyuki since he was a child, and attended the church where Tsuyuki’s father was a minister.
The district attorney’s office says 35 victims have been identified so far, many of them unaware of the embezzlement until they were contracted by the office.