LOS ANGELES–A former University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) decathlete has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges for raising more than $37 million from investors falsely told their funds would be used to finance companies marketing cannabis vape pens, federal prosecutors announced July 1.
David Bunevacz, 53 of Calabasas,who competed with the Philippines national team, agreed to plead guilty to one count each of securities fraud and wire fraud, according to his plea agreement filed Friday in Los Angeles federal court.
Bunevacz was taken into federal custody on April 5. He is likely to enter his plea within the next few weeks. The crimes each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison.
Bunevacz sought investments in several businesses, including CaesarBrutus LLC and CB Holding Group Corp., which he said were involved with the sale vape pens that contained cannabis products like CBD oil or THC. According to the criminal case.
The defendant falsely claimed to at least one investor that he was in a long-term relationship with China’s manufacturer of disposable vape pen and that he received “raw, pesticide-free oils” from them. This oil was then sent to “labs that blend the flavors with our custom-made process that makes the vape flavoring discrete and smooth.”
Prosecutors claimed that Bunevacz provided investors with forgery documents including invoices and bank statements to back his claims about the success of the companies and their need for funds.
Bunevacz used the money to fund business operations instead of spending it on his extravagant lifestyle. According to an affidavit, Bunevacz misused the bulk of the funds for lavish living expenses, including a luxury house in Calabasas and Las Vegas trips. He also bought jewelry, handbags, luxury watches, and lavish birthday parties for his daughter.
He allegedly spent $8,143,500 at casinos, paid $218,700 to an event planner in connection with the birthday party, and bought a horse for $330,000. Federal prosecutors claim that some investor funds were used to pay back investors previously involved in Ponzi schemes.
Bunevacz blogs about his accomplishments as an ex-decathlete and former competitor for the Philippines. He also claims that his wife and his daughter were featured on a reality TV show.
The investigation found that Bunevacz tried to hide negative information from investors such as his 2017 conviction for unlawfully selling securities. Prosecutors allege.
After one investor uncovered a civil lawsuit against Bunevacz, the defendant allegedly emailed a counterfeit version of the settlement agreement to falsely make it appear that he had been paid $325,000 as part of a settlement. In reality, it was Bunevacz who had agreed to pay $325,000 to settle the claim, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Operating through his cannabis companies, Bunevacz raised between $37.1 million and $45 million from more than 10 victim investors. He admitted to causing losses of at least $28.4 million, prosecutors said.