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Disbarred Attorney Admits to Embezzling Nearly $500K for Gambling

Wayne Martin Fong received a six-month sentence over the objection of prosecutors, who believed the punishment should be stiffer.

A disbarred attorney admitted to stealing nearly $500,000 from an employer so he could go gambling. Patch file photo.
A disbarred attorney admitted to stealing nearly $500,000 from an employer so he could go gambling. Patch file photo.

A disbarred attorney pleaded guilty today to stealing about $469,000 from an Irvine insurance company where he was employed in an executive role and was immediately sentenced to six months in jail over the objections of prosecutors, who had sought a stiffer punishment,

Wayne Martin Fong, 51, of Tustin gambled the money away, said Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche, who had proposed a plea deal carrying a five- year prison term.

Fong, however, accepted a plea deal from Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald, which also included an order to pay back $309,000 to his victims, Labreche said.

Had he gone to trial and been convicted, Fong would have faced up to 13 years and four months in prison, Labreche said.

Fong's attorney told Fitzgerald that the defendant has been attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

Fong has made some effort to pay back some of the stolen money, but Labreche did not know how much.

Fong, a former New York City police officer, was a vice president and attorney at Fidelity National Title Group from 1999 until 2010, when company officials discovered the embezzlement, Labreche said.

Fong asked one vendor, Global Discoveries, in July 2009 to send payments to a bank account he controlled and to send all correspondence to him, including a personal email address and a post office box in Tustin, Labreche said.

Fong did the same with at least one other vendor, Labreche said.

A vendor sent a letter to company officials raising concerns, which prompted an internal investigation, Labreche said.

Fidelity sued Fong in January 2010 and settled the lawsuit in July 2010, according to the State Bar of California.

Fong, who was arrested in November 2012, made a lump sum payment of $100,000 to Fidelity and agreed to pay $400,000 more in installments over the next 30 years, according to the State Bar.

Fong told State Bar officials that he had a gambling addiction and in September 2010 began attending meetings at the UCLA Gambling Studies Program. He also attends three meetings a week with Gambling Anonymous, according to the State Bar.

Fong pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of grand theft and five felony counts of money laundering with sentence-enhancing allegations of causing a loss of more than $100,000, aggravated white-collar crime of more than $100,000 and property loss of more than $200,000.

--City News Service


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