U.S. judge allows disbarred Irvine attorney involved in bank scheme to help ailing wife before going to prison

SANTA ANA – Declaring that he “doesn’t have the heart” to send a man to prison while his wife struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, a federal judge delayed the sentencing of a former lawyer involved in a multi-million-dollar bank-fraud scheme.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter gave Bruce Haglund, 65, of Irvine more time to spend with his ailing wife who depends on him, and time for their children to come up with a plan to care for her and for the family to sell their home.

Haglund, who is now disbarred, has admitted to being involved in a $5 million scam targeting investors across Southern California.

“I’m prepared to pay the price for those mistakes,” Haglund told the judge during a Monday hearing at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana. “My only hope is I can serve my wife in her dire circumstances.”

Carter made clear, however, that Haglund will ultimately spend time in federal prison. The judge indicated that he is weighing sentencing Haglund to 18 to 27 months.

“I think you are genuinely remorseful,” Carter told Haglund. “I have no doubt about that. But you are going to prison.”

Prosecutors say the scam was led by Francis Wilde, who operated IDLYC Holdings Trust. Investors in the scheme were promised huge returns but instead lost millions.

Those running the scheme either spent the investors money on themselves, federal prosecutors said, or used the money from newer investors to pay off older investors.

Wilde was sentenced last year to 51 months in federal prison, while co-defendant Mark Gelazela was sentenced to 41 months. Earlier this week, Steven Woods, another co-defendant, was sentenced to 366 days in prison.

Haglund’s attorney, Dyke Huish, said his client did not organize the scheme or market it to potential investors.

Haglund’s role, his attorney said, was to lend credibility with his background as a lawyer. It wasn’t until later that he realized what was going on, the attorney said.

“He found himself in the water, it was boiling and he did not get out,” Huish said. “His mistake, his crime, is that he should have said, ‘No,’ but he didn’t.”

Haglund’s attorney estimated that his client earned less than $400,000 from the scam. Haglund likely won’t be able to pay restitution in the case, the attorney said, because he is already facing tax liens against his home and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil judgment.

The defense attorney during Monday’s hearing showed a video of Haglund’s wife struggling to recall the names of her family members or her own birth date. He noted that Haglund is her “only anchor,” and that “without him, she is lost.”

Judge Carter waved off Huish’s initial suggestion that Haglund serve a sentence of home confinement that would turn into prison time if his wife passed away.

Instead, the judge agreed to delay the sentencing, setting a June 11 court date to discuss the issue further.

Federal prosecutors, who are asking for a 27-month prison sentence, did not object.

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