Yacht brokers arrested for embezzlement

July 17, 2009 12:22:42 PM PDT
Two Sausalito yacht brokers are being arraigned this afternoon for allegedly embezzling $250,000 from their clients.

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Robert Prescott, 65, and Teresa Prescott, 49, were arrested Thursday afternoon at their business, Anchorage Brokers and Consultants, also known as ABC Yachts, in Sausalito.

They are scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. in Department M of Marin County Superior Court for embezzlement, writing checks on an account with insufficient funds and theft or embezzlement from an elder or dependent adult. They are being held in the Marin County Jail under $500,000 bail.

Sausalito police Capt. John Rohrbacher said the alleged embezzlement victims lived in the United States, Canada and Mexico and the amount allegedly embezzled may go higher. Police believe there may be other unidentified victims.

Rohrbacher said there are seven known victims and four vessels, but the investigation is continuing.

So far at least $250,000 to $300,000 was embezzled, but he said the exact amount could be more because the Prescotts were paying previous victims with money made from more recent yacht sales, a "rob Peter to pay Paul scheme."

The three-month investigation began in April when the first alleged victim said the Prescotts brokered the sale of his sailboat and paid him with a $144,000 check, Rohrbacher said. The victim's bank notified him there were insufficient funds in the account.

Detective Sean Smagalski contacted the California Department of Boating and Waterways, which regulates the licensing and operation of boat sale brokers, for help with the investigation, Rohrbacher said.

The investigation determined there were additional victims and the Marin County District Attorney's Office obtained search warrants for business and financial records that were served at the business Thursday, Rohrbacher said.

Phil Howe, a salesman with ABC Yachts, said the Prescotts were trying to repay money they owed people.

"They expanded when they should have contracted. They dug themselves into a hole," Howe said this morning.

The Prescotts opened another office in San Rafael but closed it last month and recently bought a home, he said.

Yacht sales have been poor because of the economy but recently have picked up, Howe said. He said he will be working with another broker by the end of the month.

Anyone who may have been a victim should call the Sausalito Police Department at (415) 289-4118.

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