Jan Morton Heger, 66, of Irvine, is accused of pulling the scam with two other men, one of whom is to be arraigned later the month and another who will never be arraigned because he expired. The 16 felony counts and sentencing enhancements against Heger could put him behind bars for nearly 30 years if he is convicted.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on today's arraignment case follows:
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February 16, 2011
ATTORNEY TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR STEALING $898,000 FROM 11 VICTIMS IN INVESTMENT SCHEME
*Co-defendant faces same charges for his involvement in the fraud
SANTA ANA - An attorney will be arraigned tomorrow on charges of stealing $898,000 from 11 victims in an investment scheme with two other men. Attorney Jan Morton Heger, of Irvine, and co-defendant Ramon Andres Najera, of Laguna Woods, both 66, are charged with 16 felony counts of using untrue statements in the sale or purchase of securities and 11 felony counts of grand theft, with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white-collar crime over $500,000, theft exceeding $150,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 29 years and eight months in state prison. Heger and Najera are being held on $2 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond.
Heger is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 17, 2011, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. The time and department are to be determined. Najera is scheduled to be in court for a continued arraignment on Feb. 28, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55 of the Central Justice Center. A third accomplice in these schemes, Sonny Beckham, passed away July 2008.
Between December 2005 and July 2008, Heger and Najera are accused of working with Beckham to defraud 11 victims using investment schemes. Najera is accused of contacting Leo D. after finding the victim's web site promoting a project to build a luxury resort on the land he owned in Baja California. On Dec. 6, 2006, Heger and Najera are accused of convincing Leo D. to pay Beckham a $25,000 fee to secure $5 million in bonds to use as collateral for a $6-million loan from the West African Oil Group in Ghana. Instead of producing the promised financing, Heger and Najera are accused of eluding the victim for 19 months with excuses and false official-looking documents. They are accused of stealing the victim's money and never paying it back.
In June 2008, Leo D. contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to report a $25,000 theft in a deal with Heger and Najera. In September 2008, further investigation led to 10 other victims. In October 2008, Heger fled to Thailand. He was arrested and extradited back to the United States on Jan. 21, 2011.
Circumstances of the Fraudulent Scheme
Heger and Najera, with Beckham, are accused of contacting the above victims and getting them to pay a percentage fee to secure funding. Heger is accused of using his credentials as an attorney to legitimize the deal. Beckham, Heger and Najera are accused of telling the investors that Beckham had gold mines in Africa and funds in Nigerian and Ghanaian bank accounts and that in order to transfer funds, the victims needed to pay a fee. They are accused of accepting a fee ranging from $25,000 to more than $177,000. The defendants, along with Beckham, are accused with promising high returns to the victims.
After collecting the money, the three are accused of avoiding the victims and dodging questions about investment returns. Heger and Najera are accused of fraudulently collecting more funds from victims for "customs fees" and "paperwork" to release funds from the African bank accounts. Some of the victims took out loans against home equity lines, credit lines, and additional mortgages on their homes. Heger and Najera are accused of never paying any of the 11 victims.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Eric Akerlind at (714) 347-8691.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.