An Orange County financial consultant--who had been held for the murder of an artist/Russian immigrant/Los Angeles school teacher as part of a complex theft and money laundering scheme--pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and other counts last week and was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in state prison.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta handed down the sentence for Daniel Gilbert Becerril II, 37, who owned AP Financial of Huntington Beach, according to the LA County District Attorney's office. Becerril, who Ohta also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution, had pleaded no contest to one count of voluntary manslaughter, five theft counts and one count of money laundering.
Becerril had defrauded Alexander Merman out of about $315,000 in inherited annuity funds after the 35-year-old elementary school teacher had loaned the AP Financial owner $250,000 to save his ailing business.
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Becerril transferred the stolen funds among several bank accounts to hide the money, according to prosecutors.
On March 18, 2008, Becerril fatally stabbed Merman in his Santa Monica apartment, but no forensic evidence was left behind. Santa Monica Police investigators linked Becerril to the murder by cell phone evidence and voluminous financial documents.
During the probe, cops learned of a second victim Becerrill has defrauded out of about $127,000 through a real estate scam.