1 September 2004 LAWFUEL – Best for law, law news, legal news, legal research A federal grand jury in Santa Ana today returned an indictment against the former head of a now-defunct Orange County-based charitable organization, Hope for Life Foundation, that allegedly was at the center of a scheme that cost two victims more than one-half million dollars.
Donald Westover, 35, who until recently resided in Laguna Beach, was indicted on one count of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.
Westover, in addition to serving as head of Hope for Life, portrayed himself as an investment counselor. In this capacity, he solicited money from the victims with the promise of purchasing high-yield investments. In reality, the indictment alleges, Westover used the money to pay personal expenses.
In 2000 and 2001, Westover allegedly told investors that he was arranging financing on behalf of two telecommunications firms, Ericsson and Motorola Corporations. In exchange for providing cash to Ericsson and Motorola, Westover told investors, they would receive large returns once the financing deal had been completed. Based on these representations, one investor forwarded $433,333 to Westover, and the other $100,000. The money was deposited into the Hope for Life bank account.
In reality, Westover had no dealings with Ericcson or Motorola, and the financing arrangement he discussed with the investors did not exist. Once Westover received the money, he used it to pay personal expenses and make personal investments.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of all three counts in the indictment, Westover faces a statutory maximum penalty of 60 years in federal prison.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Westover.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.