When David "Jerry" Dominelli died in Chicago in 2009 it took two weeks for news of his death to reach the West Coast, where his financial frauds wreaked havoc on San Diego in the mid 1980s. In 1979, Dominelli opened an investment company in La Jolla, Ca. and promised early investors a 40 to 50 percent return. It was a classic Ponzi scheme, where Dominelli paid early investors with the money from new ones and conned Sab Diegans out of nearly $80 million. By 1983, when he had nearly 1,500 investors, demand for withdrawals led to bounced checks and the whole thing began to unravel. In 1985, San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock was convicted of conspiracy and perjury charges related to campaign contributions from Dominellini's hedge fund. He was forced from office, but he later appealed and accepted a plea deal for a single charge and served no jail time. Dominelli wasn't so fortunate. In 1985, he plead guilty to four felony charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which he served 10 and a half before being paroled to his native Chicago.
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