U.S. Department of Justice|
Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California
United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs|
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947
Los Angeles, CA - The former head of a now-defunct Orange County-based charitable organization, Hope for Life Foundation, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, admitting that he used the charity to bilk two victims out of more than $500,000.
Donald Westover, 36, formerly of Laguna Beach, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to 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, Westover did not invest the money as promised. Instead, as alleged in the indictment, Westover used the money to pay personal expenses.
Westover admitted that he told investors in 2000 and 2001 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, as alleged in the indictment, Westover had no dealings with Ericcson or Motorola, and the financing arrangement he discussed with the investors did not exist. Westover admitted yesterday that, despite the fact he never invested the money as promised, he continued to assure investors that the money had been invested.
Westover pleaded guilty before United States District Judge David O. Carter, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on January 23, 2006. At sentencing, Westover faces a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Release No. 05-117
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