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SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday a grand jury indicted Luke D. Brugnara on charges of mail fraud, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.
According to court documents, Brugnara, 50, of San Francisco, allegedly agreed to purchase several works of art for a combined total of approximately $11,000,000. The art was shipped to Brugnara from New York, however, after he took possession of the art, he refused to pay for it or to return it. Law enforcement authorities obtained a search warrant for Brugnara’s home and seized four of the five crates of art that had been shipped to Brugnara. The fifth crate, which contained a work of art worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars, remains missing.
According to the Indictment, Brugnara represented he would pay millions of dollars for these works of art, however, the Indictment alleges that Brugnara had almost no income, no assets, no means to pay for the art, and a substantially negative net worth.
After a Criminal Complaint was filed against him, Brugnara was arrested on May 28, 2014, in San Francisco. He made his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco that morning. Brugnara remains in custody. Brugnara’s next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, June 9, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. before the Honorable Laurel Beeler, United States Magistrate Court Judge.
In 2010, Brugnara was convicted of several other federal crimes, including filing false tax returns, making false statements, and violating the Endangered Species Act. As a result, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was still on supervised release from some of those convictions when he allegedly committed the fraud offense for which he was indicted yesterday.
The maximum statutory penalty for mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, forfeiture, and restitution. Any sentence following conviction, however, would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Doug Sprague is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rawaty Yim. The prosecution is the result of a one-month investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Please note that an Indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Luke D. Brugnara must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.