VENTURA — Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced Dec. 15 the filing of a second criminal case against disbarred attorney Russell Takasugi, 57, of Moorpark.
The complaint alleges two counts of grand theft, four counts of forgery, and one count of money laundering. The new charges result from a continuing investigation into Takasugi’s actions conducted by the Simi Valley Police Department.
In 1995, Takasugi obtained a durable power of attorney over the affairs of Hazel McVey. In 2002, McVey died in Chatsworth at the age of 79. When she died, she owned assets worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. After her death, Takasugi continued to operate her personal accounts as if she were still alive, slowly spending her assets without probating her estate or accounting to anyone.
From 2004 through 2008, Takasugi forged McVey’s signature to checks, laundered the proceeds through accounts he controlled, and spent her money to benefit himself and his family.
In one series of transactions in March 2008, when McVey had been deceased for more than five years, Takasugi forged her signature on a check. He then deposited that check into a second account held in her name. Takasugi then drew a check on the second account and deposited it into his own business account. He then drew the funds out of his account to pay himself and his own business expenses.
Takasugi is currently pending sentencing on an earlier case. If convicted of all charges, he faces a potential prison sentence of 16 years. He was remanded with no bail on his earlier case and $50,000 bail on his latest case. The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 37.
On Oct. 5, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Colleen Toy White found Takasugi guilty following his pleas of no contest to 34 felony counts, including one count each of elder fraud and grand theft, 28 counts of money laundering, two counts of perjury, two counts of offering false instruments, and the aggravated white-collar crime enhancement. The Simi Valley Police Department conducted the investigation that resulted in the convictions.
Takasugi was a licensed California attorney from 1985 until he stipulated to his disbarment earlier this year. In 2007, he drafted a will for a terminally ill client. The client bequeathed his property to a friend and named Takasugi executor of his estate. After the client died, Takasugi failed to initiate probate for one year and systematically embezzled $537,205 from investment accounts the client owned while concealing those assets from the probate court. He subsequently filed false statements and instruments with the probate court.
Takasugi has repaid the $537,205 he stole in the earlier case, in which he faced a maximu of five years in state prison.
Takasugi is the son of the late Nao Takasugi, who served as a state assemblyman and mayor of Oxnard.