An Orange County accountant who lent his name, his opinions and his services to DFJ Italia was charged today in a federal case related to a fraud scheme that cost investors more than $45 million.
Richard Glenn Dunham, 56, of Corona Del Mar, who owns RDA Financial Corporation, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of mail fraud and aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return that were filed today in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
Dunham becomes the second person charged in relation to the scheme that lured investors with lies of ties to Italian royalty and promises of 24-percent annual returns. The scheme started in approximately September 1996, and DFJ Italia was forced into bankruptcy in March 2000. As a result of the scam, over 200 investors lost in excess of $45 million.
Previously in this case, Stephen A. Ceparano, 63, a certified public accountant from Northport, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud for his role in providing false financial documents to the operators of DFJ Italia. Ceparano, who entered his guilty pleas in United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York, is expected to be sentenced later this year.
The criminal information filed today alleges that Dunham was approached by the operators of DFJ Italia and agreed to provide accounting services, including tax preparation services, to DFJ Italia employees and clients. Dunham worked in DFJ Italia’s Irvine offices from January 1999 until the scheme collapsed.
During his affiliation with DFJ Italia, Dunham allowed DFJ Italia to falsely label Dunham as a certified public accountant who would vouch for the financial integrity of the DFJ Italia investment. Dunham also provided the company with a letter on RDA Financial letterhead in which he called DFJ Italia a “safe investment” that provided large returns, even though he had not conducted any financial review of the investment.
Dunham also allegedly advised an investor that financial statements prepared by Ceparano and which purported to show the financial strength of DFJ Italia were accurate. Dunham’s advice was false as he concealed from the investor that he had never conducted any review or analysis of their content to determine their accuracy. It was later determined that the financial statements were fraudulent. It is further alleged that the investor relied in part upon Dunham’s advice in making an additional and larger investment in DFJ.
Dunham has agreed to appear in federal court within the next month. The two charges carry a maximum possible penalty of eight years in federal prison.
The cases against Dunham and Ceparano are the result of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.