SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A trial began this week for a California man charged with fleecing 125 elderly people out of their life savings -- a total of $11 million.
Jeffrey Gordon Butler, 50, of San Juan Capistrano faces 874 counts arising from an alleged Ponzi scheme, The Orange County Register reported. The trial is expected to last at least six months.
"This case is about broken promises, broken trust and broken confidence," said Deputy District Attorney William Overtoom in an hour-long statement Monday to the jury. "What this case is about is what the defendant failed to tell the investors."
Butler is charged with financial elder abuse and selling unqualified securities. Prosecutors say he helped his clients, most in their 70s or older and one 99, with estate planning and then promised them high returns if they invested with him.
He allegedly used money from new clients to pay dividends to earlier ones.
Butler's lawyer, Ken Chinn, suggested that he did not intend to rob anyone and thought what he was doing was legal.
Peggy Butler, the defendant's wife, is charged with tax evasion. She is free on bail while her husband has been held since 2006 in lieu of $10 million bond.