Duped doctor couple, moved into Malibu home, stole millions, feds say

A Fresno hairstylist and yoga instructor have been arrested on suspicion of stealing nearly $3 million from a doctor while posing as his caregiver and friend, federal prosecutors said.

Anthony Flores, 46, of Fresno was arrested last week and Anna Moore, 39, who lives in Monterrey, Mexico, was arrested Tuesday in Houston, prosecutors for the Central District of California announced Wednesday.

The couple were indicted by a grand jury on December 15 on multiple counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and other counts, according to court documents.

Flores has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but Moore has not yet pleaded guilty, according to prosecutors.

The couple were living rent-free in Dr. Mark Sawusch’s Malibu beach house while they stole money from his personal bank accounts, prosecutors said.

The couple befriended Sawusch, a 57-year-old eye surgeon from Pacific Palisades, and moved into his home days after meeting him at an ice cream shop in Venice. Sawusch was also a successful investor and had a brokerage account of more than $60 million, prosecutors said.

Flores was a licensed barber and owned a window cleaning business in Fresno. Moore was an actor and ran a yoga studio in Fresno, but they told Sawusch they would act as caregivers.

Sawusch ran his medical practice for more than 30 years, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by his mother. But he suffered from severe bipolar disorder and around November 2016 he badly burned his hands, which left him unable to perform surgery.

By the time he met Flores and Moore, his mental state had deteriorated, according to his mother.

He was voluntarily hospitalized several times between 2015 and 2017, prosecutors said. Flores and Moore gradually took control of Sawusch’s life and personal finances beginning in September 2017.

Sawusch suffered a severe nervous breakdown and was arrested, prosecutors said. Flores promised to post bail for Sawusch if he would sign powers of attorney to Flores, who assured Sawusch that once bail was posted, he would void legal title.

But he later refused and claimed he wanted to help Sawusch pay his bills and other finances while retaining the powers of attorney, prosecutors say.

Between September 2017 and May 2018, Flores and Moore allegedly transferred money from Sawusch’s bank accounts to their own personal accounts, prosecutors said. The couple isolated Sawusch from his mother and sister, who live in Florida, and barred his friends and county social workers from visiting, authorities said.

Throughout their time at Sawusch, Flores and Moore texted his mother, asking her not to try to contact her son.

“I have given you clear instructions on how best to serve your sons [sic] wishes,” Flores wrote. “[S]silence is golden.

The couple allegedly took Sawusch to the doctor to receive weekly ketamine infusions and also provided him with marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and LSD, prosecutors said.

While Sawusch was under the influence of LSD, Flores allegedly changed the two-step authentication on a brokerage firm account and replaced the information with his own phone number, giving him access to the $60 million account. according to prosecutors.

The LSD further deteriorated Sawusch’s mental state, and he later kicked Moore and Flores out of the house, prosecutors said.

The couple continued to monitor Sawusch with video cameras installed at the beach house, authorities said. They watched Sawusch from a luxury hotel room paid for with his money.

Four days before Sawusch’s death, Flores initiated two wire transfers of $1 million from Sawusch’s brokerage account to Flores’ own bank account.

Sawusch died in May 2018. Prosecutors have not disclosed how he died.

Flores and Moore returned to Sawusch’s beach house after his death, according to court documents, and withdrew large sums of money from his bank accounts.

The couple held a memorial at the home but did not inform any of Sawusch’s family and hid his financial records from them. The couple also pulled records from the beach house and falsely claimed that Sawusch promised to give them part of his estate and the beach house after his death, according to court documents.

Her family sued to recover the stolen money, but Flores and Moore allegedly violated multiple court orders to return funds or documents. They allegedly attempted to launder the money by fraudulently transferring the funds through multiple bank accounts. Flores and Moore settled the lawsuit and agreed to repay $1 million, but did not, prosecutors said.

Moore and Flores could face decades in prison if convicted on all charges.

Los Angeles Times

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