NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Team 10: More San Diegans come forward about alleged Ponzi scheme

A criminal investigation into Christopher Dougherty is ongoing
Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 26, 2019

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- More victims have come forward, saying their financial advisor stole thousands of dollars in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

"He preyed on the elderly folks," said San Diego resident, Brian Taylor.

Brian and his wife Sharon have been married for more than 50 years. Brian, a Navy veteran, said this is not how they planned to spend their retirement.

"We enjoyed our lives. We don't enjoy our lives anymore," Brian said.

Christopher Dougherty was their neighbor. Sharon said they knew their family well and often met for parties or gatherings over the years. They stated investing with Dougherty in the early 2000s. A few years ago, they moved money into his company C & N Wealth Management. The Taylors said Dougherty told them they were investing in tax-free municipal bonds. They learned later that was not true.

"It was actually invested in heavy equipment," Brian said. "I couldn't believe it." They said it was all done without their knowledge. The couple learned about this just this past October.

"He said, don't worry, you're getting your money back and we didn't know that was the day after he filed bankruptcy," Sharon said.

The Taylors are the third couple Team 10 has interviewed regarding this alleged Ponzi scheme. Sharon and David Vega said Dougherty stole about $30,000 from them. That money was meant to help their grandchildren when they go to college. "We have not received any funds back," Sharon Vega told Team 10.

Diane and Jerry, who declined to use their last name, said Dougherty took more than $1 million dollars from them, meant for their retirement.

"We can't even afford a burial plot at this point," Jerry said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff's Department confirmed a criminal investigation into Christopher Dougherty with at least 30 potential victims.

Bankruptcy attorney Larissa Lazarus is with the Law Offices of Mark Miller. Their firm represents 11 people in the Dougherty bankruptcy case. "They are all just good, really kind people who unfortunately trusted someone who was a licensed financial advisor and wasn't actually looking out for their best interest."

She said she could not say whether or not it was elder financial abuse, but Lazarus said Dougherty was "doing things he was not supposed to be doing as a licensed financial advisor."

In 2011, Dougherty was charged with a felony for taking thousands of dollars from a youth sports league. He ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years summary probation. Records from the Department of Insurance showed that Dougherty "took somewhere between $60,000 and $84,000 from the League's bank account" when he sered as volunteer treasurer. In a letter dated April 19, 2012, Dougherty wrote to the Department: ".. due to extreme financial hardship and personal issues, I suffered a lapse in judgment that was fortunately resolved within a short period of time due to my efforts."

"If he gets away with it, he's going to continue doing it and we don't want anybody else to have to go through what we've gone through," Sharon Taylor said.