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Lawyer-Turned-Money Manager Accused in Alleged $7M Ponzi Scheme

Posted Jul 11, 2011 9:03 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A lawyer-turned-money manager has been accused in a federal indictment of defrauding investors out of $7 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Robert Tunnell, a Harvard law graduate, is charged with seven counts of mail fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering, according to KTVU.com and the San Franscisco Chronicle.

Tunnell, 72, resigned from the bar in 2001 amid charges he stole $300,000 from his law firm, according to a press release summarizing the indictment. After that, he persuaded friends and family to invest money with him by holding himself out as a highly successful investor.

Prosecutors allege Tunnell lost about $7 million out of $10 million entrusted to him, and used most of the remaining funds to pay investors and to pay off a bank loan. One of the investors was his girlfriend. According to an FBI affidavit cited by the Chronicle, Tunnell told his girlfriend he made a lot of money through investments in commodities such as copper and coffee.

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