CITY NEWS SERVICE
SANTA ANA — A Coto de Caza financial planner pleaded guilty Friday to stealing about $2.8 million from 33 victims, many of whom were elderly.
Hitomi Tsuyuki, 57, accepted a plea bargain from Deputy District Attorney Yvette Patko, who will recommend an 18-year prison sentence later this month.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel took the guilty plea.
Tsuyuki is also expected to be ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution to his victims, but he has no money and little chance of paying it back, Patko said.
From Nov. 22, 1997, to Nov. 8, 2007, Tsuyuki, who was working as a financial planner, convinced his victims to give him their money under the pretext of investing it in bonds, Patko said. Instead, he spent the money on his himself, including his Coto de Caza home, a vacation property in Mammoth, a golf club membership and cars, Patko said.
Many of Tsuyuki’s victims knew him since he was a child and met him while attending the church where his father was a minister, Patko said.
Tsuyuki targeted mostly elderly victims, Patko said.
Tsuyuki falsely claimed to be a lawyer to some of his clients.
He fabricated documents when some of his clients grew suspicious, but when he failed to produce a return on their investments some of them complained to Orange County prosecutors.
Tsuyuki pleaded guilty to 17 felony counts of the use of untrue statements in the sale of a security, 10 felony counts of theft from an elder, a felony count of grand theft, a felony count of the use of a scheme to defraud with a sentencing enhancement for causing property damage more than $2.5 million.