Former Thousand Oaks man arrested on fraud charges
A former Thousand Oaks resident who wrote a pamphlet warning of the dangers of drunken driving has been charged with numerous felonies including grand theft and money laundering, related to investments he solicited in his book project.
George Ronald Russell, 65, was arrested in Nevada on April 1 by deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, according to an April 12 news release from the office of Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. Russell appeared in Ventura County Superior Court on April 11 and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Russell is accused of stealing more than $1 million from 10 people, “by making false claims to victims while securing investments” in his book, The DUI Nightmare, according to a Ventura County District Attorney’s Office news release. Prosecutors also allege that he resold interests in the project without paying back his previous investors.
Russell faces 12 counts of grant theft, two counts of attempted grand theft, two counts of theft from an elder, six counts of money laundering and two counts of possessing a firearm and ammunition while being a convicted felon, along with a special allegation that he took more than $500,000 during the commission of the alleged crimes.
According to a 2016 article in the Ventura County Star, Russell was arrested twice for DUI, in 2003 and 2010. He spent time in jail, had his license suspended and spent thousands of dollars on fines and fees, so he decided to write The DUI Nightmare to help other people avoid his fate. He gave 1,000 copies of the book to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, and deputies passed them out at DUI checkpoints.
Russell is in custody at Ventura County Jail on bail of $500,000, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators believe Russell could have additional victims they have not discovered, and are urging anyone with information about the case to call Frank Huber at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, at 805-662-1740.