Agents Arrested in Felony Fraud Scheme Targeting Senior Citizens

February 21, 2003

Four suspects were arrested following an investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Investigation Division for allegedly defrauding seniors out of millions.

Lawrence John Deovlet, 60, aka: John Hartonian, of Westlake Village; Bassem (“Bob”) Btadini, 47, of Tarzana; Dessie Loree Ryan, 66, and husband Robert Edward Ryan, 68, of San Juan Capistrano were arrested on multiple felony charges. The four are charged with unlawful sales of unregistered and unqualified securities targeting senior citizens.

The complaint alleges over 40 elderly victims were persuaded by Btadini and Deovlet to liquidate their investments and life savings in order to purchase securities described as nine-month promissory notes.

The complaint alleges Deovlet and Btadini together sold over $3,000,000 of the unqualified and unregistered securities to elder consumers. Dessie Ryan and Robert Ryan were reportedly the “up line” – marketing brokers who contracted and paid commissions to the two insurance agents for each sale of the promissory notes.

The promissory notes were reportedly offered for start-up and established firms offering high rates of return and were backed by a non-admitted offshore surety insurance company. Many of the investment companies became insolvent and filed for bankruptcy. The main surety company, New England International Surety, Inc., reportedly failed to pay any claims.

If convicted, the suspects could each face up to 10 years in state prison and pay fines of up to $1,000,000.

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