SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An Encinitas man who defrauded 30 people - mostly friends and family members - out of nearly $7 million through a 10-year investment scam was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison.
Scott Bottolfson, 56, pleaded guilty last Nov. 30 to a single count of wire fraud. He apologized to his victims in a hearing today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller.
"I take full responsibility," the defendant said. "I have a deep sorrow for the hurt and pain that I have caused."
Bottolfson's attorney, Michael Lipman, said his client stole from two elderly sisters, his brother-in-law and mother-in-law, among others.
"It's almost incomprehensible to me," the defense attorney said. "What he did was despicable. He took their money and lived a nice lifestyle."
Miller said the fraud caused guilt and shame to many of the victims.
"The fraud has crushed dreams...depleted the retirement funds of several," the judge said.
Miller said the psychological damage done to some victims was "haunting."
"These are the type of harms that don't go away," Miller said.
The judge called the circumstances of the crime "aggravated, damaging, and fairly heinous."
He ordered Bottolfson to pay $6.8 million in restitution, but victims can expect to get back maybe 10 percent of what they lost, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Tenorio.
Ray Watson, who lost the most to Bottolfson - more than $3.4 million over 18 months - said the defendant offered to help him invest money that he got from the sale of a business and assured him there was no risk.
Watson, a 45-year-old cancer survivor, said he had a stress-induced heart attack as a result of losing millions of dollars to Bottolfson.
"I don't think anybody's rich after dealing with Scott," Watson said. "If he is sentenced to a long term in prison, that would be the beginning of my healing."
After pronouncing sentence, Miller read a list of all Bottolfson's victims and how much money they lost. The judge ordered Bottolfson to surrender on or before March 25.
Two people died early Sunday morning after a high-speed chase ended in a head-on crash in North County.
A warming trend that began Sunday in most of San Diego County will continue Monday with dry and warmer weather expected to continue until the middle of this week.
The San Diego Police Department has launched an internal investigation into a program intended to reward officers for making drug arrests.
Police were involved a pursuit late Saturday that ended with a deadly officer-involved shooting in Escondido.
A man was shot and killed by police at an officer- involved shooting in Escondido, a sheriff's lieutenant said Sunday.
A man threw rocks at vehicles on Interstate 5 near Imperial Beach Sunday, and threatened police with a pickaxe as he ran into a riverbed.
San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins will make history Wednesday when she becomes the first woman and first lesbian to hold the California Senate's top job.
A 16-year-old boy was allegedly drunk when he crashed his car into a stopped vehicle, pinning a motorist between two bumpers, police said Sunday.
A 27-year-old man suffered fatal injuries as the result of a "punching game'' inside of a bar Saturday morning in the Gaslamp
neighborhood of San Diego.
A large plume of smoke filled the sky in Miramar on Saturday morning after a concrete supply building went up in flames.