Lawyer Charged With Running A San Francisco Ponzi Scheme
Robert G. Tunnell, Jr., of San Francisco, has been charged with seven counts of mail fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering. The charges result from Tunnell allegedly operating a Ponzi scheme from at least January 2006 until his arrest on June 23, 2011.
According to the indictment:
Tunnell was an attorney until he resigned from the State Bar of California while charges that he stole approximately $300,000 from his law firm were pending against him. Tunnell subsequently held himself out as a highly successful investor, promising substantial returns while representing that he would invest funds in a conservative, safe, and cautious manner.
However, Tunnell engaged in risky trading activity with his investors’ money, losing approximately $7 million of the approximately $10 million investors—mostly family members and personal friends—entrusted to him from January 2006 through June 2011. Tunnell used most of the remaining money from his investors to repay other investors and to pay off a debt he owed to a bank after he had failed to repay a loan. Despite these substantial losses and other dissipation of funds, Tunnell consistently and falsely reported gains to his investors, and even created false documents grossly overstating his assets and net worth.