A Huntington Beach, Calif., financial advisor has been arrested for murder and multiple counts of fraud for a murder-for-profit scheme and for defrauding an as-yet unknown number of people out millions of dollars, according to the Santa Monica police.
Daniel Edward Becerril II, 35, owner of AP Financial Group, based in Huntington Beach, and three others have been arrested in the fraud scheme. The fraud was uncovered as part of the investigation of the stabbing death of a Santa Monica elementary school teacher and artist, Alexander Merman, 35, in 2008. Becerril was Merman's financial advisor. He owed Merman $250,000 and stole an additional $300,000 from Merman's investment accounts, according to Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis.
Becerril has been charged with murder and mutiple counts of forgery and grand theft and is being held without bail. The money from Merman and others was used for personal expenses by Becerril, says Lewis.
Merman was murdered shortly after he began demanding his money back from Becerril, police say.
Also arrested were Becerill's wife, Sandra Becerril; his sister, Rebekah Becerril, and a partner, Abram Guajardo. They were all involved with AP Financial and have been charged with multiple counts of forgery and grand theft.
Victims are still coming forward but the scheme already involves millions of dollars, Lewis says. In part, the scheme involved Becerril getting home equity loans on people's property. Some people lost their homes because of the scheme.
Becerril has not been registered with Finra since August 2009 although he continued to operate until 2012 as if he were a financial advisor and continued to own AP Financial Group. In the past, he had been registered with Finra through several other firms, but one, Veritrust Financial LLC in
Austin, Texas, filed a complaint with Finra because he misrepresented himself as being affiliated with the firm when he no longer was. Finra in 2012 banned him from being associated with any Finra registered firm.