July 15, 2024
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Carpinteria investment swindler sentenced to 16 years in prison


A Carpinteria man was sentenced June 18 to 16 years and eight months in state prison for an investment scheme that targeted elderly victims across the state, including members of his own church. 

Brett Lovett, 53, who previously had been convicted in a jury trial of 29 felony counts, was sentenced by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Pauline Maxwell.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney John Savrnoch said in a press release that, “white collar crimes are particularly damaging to the elderly and the vulnerable, who often cannot financially recover from the loss of their life savings.”

Lovett was a legal document assistant who contended that he provided investment management, prosecutors said.

He solicited funds from his victims by claiming he could keep their money safe and provide high returns on such things as hotel and real estate investments, according to prosecutors. 

Instead of investing his victims’ money, however, he used the funds to purchase cosmetic procedures, vacations, and first-class travel to India, prosecutors said.

He also used the money to pay back victims from a prior fraud case in which he was sued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the district attorney’s office said. 

The case was initially reported to the California Department of Insurance by a 78-year-old member of the defendant’s Kingdom Hall congregation in Carpinteria.

The woman said Lovett had stolen her life savings, which resulted in her becoming homeless. 

She also reported that he tried to use a power of attorney to get her committed to a mental institution when she complained to church elders about the theft. 

The insurance department’s investigation uncovered numerous other victims across California who entrusted their life savings to Lovett, prosecutors said.

Based on the investigation, the district attorney’s office filed 36 felony charges against Lovett including securities fraud, grand theft, forgery, elder abuse, residential burglary, money laundering and an aggravated white collar enhancement for thefts in excess of $500,000.00. 

In a nine-week trial, the jury convicted Lovett of the 29 felony counts, the white collar enhancement, and a series of aggravating factors.

The factors were that Lovett targeted particularly vulnerable victims, that the crimes indicated planning, sophistication, or professionalism by the defendant, and that his crimes caused damage of great monetary value. 

“Our office will continue to zealously investigate and prosecute those individuals who prey on the most vulnerable members of our community,” Savrnoch said.

He thanked the insurance department investigators, District Attorney Investigator Daniel Tagles and Senior Deputy District Attorney Casey Nelson for their work on the case.

email: mharris@pacbiztimes.com