Attorney General Bill Lockyer Announces Prison Sentences and Multi-Million Dollar Restitution Order Handed Down In Securities Fraud And Tax Evasion Case
Defendants Ordered To Pay $5.6 Million In Restitution To More Than 200 Victims
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that John Duhamell and Toni Duhamell were formally sentenced on 30 felony counts of securities fraud and grand theft, and five felony counts of tax evasion in San Bernardino County Superior Court. The Duhamell’s were prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Special Crimes Unit resulting from an investigation conducted by the Inland Empire Financial Crimes Task Force.
After entering guilty pleas on all counts, a San Bernardino Superior Court judge sentenced John Duhamell to seven years in state prison and Toni Duhamell to four years and four months in state prison. In addition, the Duhamells were ordered to repay their more than 200 victims $5.6 million in restitution, and they were also ordered to pay $816,718 each to the Franchise Tax Board on the tax evasion charges.
The Attorney General filed a criminal complaint in September, 2005 alleging that the Duhamells stole more than $5 million from investors over the course of three years on the pretense of financing a product known as the “AirVest” - a vest worn by motorcyclists that is designed to automatically inflate when they are thrown from their bikes. The Duhamells falsely told potential investors that Harley-Davidson, Inc. had invested heavily in the company. John Duhamell also falsely told potential investors that he was the independently wealthy son of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian. These false representations led more than 200 victims to believe their investment was secure due to the backing of Harley-Davidson and Kerkorian. Although the Duhamell’s victims hail from across the globe, the majority of the defrauded investors are from San Bernardino County.
Instead of putting the money into the company, the Duhamells used the investor’s cash to live an extravagant lifestyle that included trips to Europe as well as the purchase of luxury homes and automobiles.
The Inland Empire Financial Crimes Task Force is led by agents and officers from the United States Secret Service. The investigation into the Duhamells was significantly aided by agents from the Redlands Police Department and the Corona Police Department.