Ex-convict who owes victims $8M vacations at beach resort

His victims have not received a cent, yet a judge granted him permission to vacation with his girlfriend


By Garth Stapley
The Modesto Bee

MODESTO, Calif. — Convicted swindler Tony Daniloo enjoyed luxury cars and jewelry while bilking millions of dollars from victims in Modesto, Turlock and beyond. When he had trouble keeping a job soon after his release from prison three years ago, a federal judge agreed to lower Daniloo’s repayment duty to $50 a month.

Daniloo, now a handyman, remains under order to pay a combined $8 million. His victims have not received a cent, yet a judge granted Daniloo permission to vacation last month with his girlfriend at a Mexico beach resort.

The cost of the trip will be paid for by Mr. Daniloo’s girlfriend.

U.S. Probation Officer Kristen Coleman, in Dec. 1 Daniloo travel request

His probation term having ended Saturday, Daniloo now can go anywhere he wants without checking with authorities.

The Modesto Bee was unable to reach the former mortgage lender and broker, who acquaintances say now lives in the Bay Area. Court records show he has been chiseling away at his debt with wages as “a handyman, providing assistance to his landlord, as needed,” a federal probation officer wrote.

Daniloo’s many victims – including relatives, an Alzheimer’s patient and a woman who committed suicide – have received nothing because whatever little he comes up with goes first toward a $12,200 special assessment, or government charge, levied at the same time he received the restitution order. He has paid almost half the assessment; some presumably went to assist unspecified victims in government programs.

The probation officer, noting Daniloo’s “consistent payments toward the special assessment,” said the December trip to Los Cabos would be covered by his girlfriend. “He will continue to dedicate his funds to his outstanding court-ordered financial obligations,” the officer wrote, adding that Daniloo had agreed to up his monthly payments to $100.

A financial investigation revealed (Daniloo) can afford to make payments of at least $100 per month.

At that rate, Daniloo, 41, will need more than five years to pay off the assessment.

Federal rules end the government’s authority to collect restitution when the offender dies, or 20 years after he’s released from prison. Daniloo would cross that threshold in 2033, when he’s 58.

If he continues paying $100 a month, his victims might see $14,400 of the $8 million they’re owed ($6.7 million from his federal conviction, plus $1.3 million from a separate 2006 fraud conviction in Alameda County).

$8 million Owed to victims, under court order, by Tony Daniloo since his 2007 conviction

$0 Sum received by victims so far

$14,400 What victims might get by the time Daniloo no longer has to pay, in 2033

At the height of his glory, Daniloo owned Modesto-based DreamLife Financial and posed as a wealthy philanthropist, pledging millions of dollars to California State University, Stanislaus, and Turlock’s Emanuel Medical Center. He was a finalist in naming rights to the San Francisco 49ers stadium before his house of cards tumbled in a Bee investigation.

Selling homes to cash-strapped buyers, Daniloo siphoned millions from escrow accounts and millions more from investors, authorities said.

Daniloo ripped off his parents, his wife’s parents, his friends and neighbors, legal documents say, while stuffing his Turlock garage with a $170,000 Lamborghini and two Mercedes-Benzes worth a combined $193,000. His wife cut a plea deal with prosecutors and divorced him in early 2008, at the time telling The Bee she had been blinded to her husband’s corruption.

A Bee review of six Modesto-area white-collar criminals in July found that they owed nearly $33 million combined and had coughed up less than 1 cent for each $100 ordered in restitution. Several victims have died waiting, the review found.

Among the offenders was former Modesto-based Century 21 Apollo owner Jim Lankford, now doing time in a federal penitentiary in Oklahoma, who was ordered to repay $1.3 million. Authorities plan to sell a duplex he owns on Melrose Street in Modesto; a judge two weeks ago agreed that one couple swindled by Lankford will get $29,000, and another couple, $15,000, representing 66 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of what they’re owed.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California collected $121 million in civil and criminal cases in 2015, the office said. That includes forfeited assets such as Lankford’s duplex as well as new payments from ex-convicts such as Daniloo.

It’s not yet known how much restitution will be ordered from Modesto businessman Tony Huy Havens, who struck a plea deal on a fraud conviction in September after preying on golf course and casino developers who were promised $1.1 billion in financing and received nothing. Prosecutors have asked that he get more than four years when he is sentenced in March, while his lawyer recommends less than 3 1/2 years.

When approving a sentencing delay last month, a judge sternly warned Havens not to expect another. But his attorney on Tuesday asked that Havens, who owns McHenry Avenue’s Emperor Electronics, have until April 1, “to permit Mr. Havens to explain his absence to his children and family and to permit him to complete necessary matters before he goes into custody and to assist his family in preparing to be without him.”

Copyright 2016 The Modesto Bee

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