On approximately Friday, July 17, 2009, Ed Fitzgerald disappeared from Dana Point, California. Ed was a trusted and respected businessman, who had owned Dana Island Yachts, a yacht and sail boat brokerage firm that also specialized in chartering boats for excursions, particularly whale watching. I had known him as a friend and a vendor of sandwiches from my Dana Point deli for 22+ years.
Normally, a disappearance like this would raise cause for great concern for his well being. But, the events around Fitzgerald's departure would indicate he disappeared intentionally. Soon, people that Fitzgerald owed money to started to emerge and wonder what happen to their "investments." Now, two months later, it appears that Fitzgerald may have owed more than $2 million to investors and victims.
One man had sold his boat through Dana Island Yachts. He was owed $85,500. When the check he was given July 14 bounced, he asked Fitzgerald to make it right. Fitzgerald told him to return on Monday, July 21, and he would receive a cashier's check for $87,500, the extra two grand to cover the inconvenience. Fitzgerald disappeared that weekend, and the man is out both his boat, and the proceeds from the boat sale.
On July 21, black Monday in Dana Point Harbor, business at Dana Island Yachts started to unravel.
Three single moms who had individually invested, and were friends of each other who had encouraged each other to invest, found out that the more than $500,000 in loans they had made to Fitzgerald and Dana Island Yachts were most likely gone. It is difficult to say with any precision just how many others had made loans to Dana Island Yachts. It's predicted at least 20 to 30 others, with loans totaling more than $2 million, had likely lost money.
Another single mom, who had invested more than $100,000 in June, 2009, came to pick up the principal amount of her loan, only to find out it was gone.
And then there were the boat owners who had sublet boat slips from Dana Island Yachts--perhaps as many as 49 of them, many of whom had paid years in advance--found out they were losing their boat slips on September 1. And their advance payments were also gone. That could total another $300,000 to $400,000 in unaccounted for funds.
Also, the employees of Dana Island Yachts were left holding the bag. Salesmen due commissions were not going to get paid, and the office staff would be looking for work later in the week. No one received final paychecks.
These situations are just the tip of the iceberg. My intention is to dig into them and try to uncover some answers.
To date, a great deal has been written about the Fitzgerald case, most of which has been published in newspapers and in an electronic book (ebook), written by me. I also wrote a three-part series for the Dana Point News, which is a community newspaper owned by the Orange County Register. The links to these articles are in the link sections below. More links will be added as they become available. I will attempt to not repeat the information that has already been published.
This initial post is just the start. I encourage readers to make comments, which I will monitor. The blog will be updated almost daily.
Questions remain: Where is Fitzgerald? Will he be coming back? Will he face criminal charges?
Will people get any of their money back? Many of the "investors" are now "victims." Losing the money they entrusted to Fitzgerald has become a terrible hardship for them. They are hurt, devastated--and angry!
Of course there are two sides to every story. It is hard to tell Ed's side because he isn't around. I encourage him to contact me at TPBlake@aol.com or on my cell phone at, 949 412-4261.
To be continued...