Former University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) track star David Bunevacz was sentenced to 17.5 years of prison Monday for defrauding cannabis investors, according to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Bunevacz, 53, is suspected of having taken advantage of investors who paid for his house facilities, such as horses and designer garments in Calabasas, California, CBS News reported, citing the DOJ.
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Bunevacz is accused of collecting money from the victims and falsely telling them it would be used to fund companies that sold cannabis vape pens, according to the DOJ. The alleged scheme dates back to 2010, when Bunevacz began establishing companies such as CB Holding Group Corp. and Caesarbrutus LLC and alleging the entities were connected to the weed industry, the DOJ’s release continued. (RELATED: Are Vaping Teenagers Turning To Marijuana?)
The former athlete registered a variety of shell companies, using the names of actual cannabis companies for some, in order to create the false impression that his companies were engaged in legal business activities, according to the DOJ. Bunevacz assigned many of his relatives, such as his stepdaughter, high-ranking positions in the shell companies to cover up the control he had over the entities, the DOJ continued.
Bunevacz had one felony conviction for unlawful sale of securities from 2017, according to an affidavit cited by the DOJ. Bunevacz emailed a counterfeit version of a settlement agreement to make it appear as if he had received $325,000 after one investor uncovered the lawsuit against him, according to the DOJ, but it was reportedly Bunevacz who paid this sum to settle the claim.
While living in the Philippines, Bunevacz was allegedly known for being a “peripatetic grifter,” who fled the country after stealing from a cosmetic clinic he operated, according to Yahoo News. Bunevacz also allegedly bought a number of expensive items while in the Philippines, reportedly including a BMW X5 for his wife.