SF bookkeeper talks to the FBI

June 23, 2009 6:53:59 PM PDT
A San Francisco accountant went to the FBI on Tuesday to explain how he lost tens of millions of dollars. ABC7 News broke the story on Friday when some Bay Area investors found out their life savings had just disappeared. Some of the people showed up wanting an explanation from a man they trusted.

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Investors have been filling out police reports and talking with the FBI since Friday. They have been complaining about 54-year-old Roberto Heckscher, a San Francisco bookkeeper and tax preparer, who talked his clients into investing millions of dollars in what many of them now believe is a Ponzi scheme.

Roberto Heckscher showed up in a short-sleeved shirt and sun glasses as he walked into the FBI office alongside his attorney. Heckscher was the proprietor of Irving Bookkeeping and Taxes on Irving Street in San Francisco. For decades he told his clients he could earn them six to nine-percent interest on their investments virtually risk free. He said he would use the money to make short term loans to reputable businesses that needed extra cash. Now, his attorney says all the money is gone.

Some of the investors were at the Federal Building Wednesday as Heckscher walked in.

"Well, I wanted to see, to look Roberto straight in the face. You know what I mean?" said Danny O'Neill, an investor.

As Heckscher went though the security screening, O'Neill did look him straight in the face and began asking, "How could you do this?"

"I said, 'You know, I never thought you would do something like this to me Reberto," said O'Neill "And attorney was there and he was saying, 'There's no point in saying anything to him. I know you can be very angry for what happened to you.' Which I am very angry," said O'Neill.

Heckscher's attorney did not talk with ABC7 on Wednesday or return calls. However, on Friday he said his client had attempted suicide, after leaving a two page letter that explained in part that Heckscher had gambled away his clients' money.

The note said "Unexpectedly gambling then came into my life?" But that he gambled "With the sole intent of using profits/wins to...get caught up."

"The attorney for Roberto Heckscher told me he doesn't think there is any money," said ABC7's Mark Matthews.
"Oh that's really hard because than that puts us in an even more difficult situation," said Noemi Amaya, an investor.

Amaya and her husband were counting on the $20,000 they had invested to pay off their property taxes.

"This is our entire life savings, our emergency fund," said Amaya.

After talking with ABC7, Amaya said she was headed to the 13th floor to deliver Heckscher's promissory note to the FBI.

Typically in a case like this, an attorney would walk in a client in an attempt to work out some kind of deal. The U.S. Attorney's Office would not discuss the case. Regardless, investors who showed up at the federal building Wednesday are hoping no plea bargain will be offered.

"What would be the justice for the retired couple who are going to lose their home? What's going to be the justice for that little mechanic in Morgan Hill?" asked investor Cyndi Gilson.

Cindy Gilson has been emailing other investors sharing information.

"How about the man who was crying with me in front of Irving Street, who had his $3 million, all his retirement, his children's money, his parents money, everything gone. He's destitute. He was crying. How do you give justice to him?" asked Gilson.

ABC7 waited around the Federal Building for three hours on Wednesday, but never saw Heckscher or his attorney leave the building. A source close to the investigation told Matthews that even before the meeting started, Heckscher would certainly not be held on Wednesday. The investigation into any possible criminal wrongdoing has just begun.

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