W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General
An Oklahoma City man accused of swindling the rightful heirs to monies in the state’s unclaimed property fund was sentenced to 15 years incarceration yesterday afternoon in Oklahoma County District Court, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.
Tony DeLuna, 40, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of embezzlement by trustee and one count of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act. District Judge Susan Bragg sentenced DeLuna who was charged July 12, 2001, after an investigation by Edmondson’s consumer protection unit.
DeLuna, owner of Heirfinders Group, was accused of contracting with at least 14 people, including five Oklahomans, to help them locate and recover any money due them in the state’s unclaimed property fund. The state alleged DeLuna recovered about $141,000 for the 14 clients, but failed to deliver the funds.
The state alleged DeLuna entered into Power of Attorney contracts with individuals from across the country allowing him to recover money on their behalf. The contracts allowed DeLuna to keep a 25 percent commission on whatever money he recovered.
“We alleged DeLuna kept all the recovered funds for himself, with the exception of about $6,000 he forwarded to a client in California and about $2,000 he forwarded to a client in Maryland,” Edmondson said. “The California client should have received almost $28,000 and the Maryland client was entitled to more than $14,000, minus DeLuna’s 25 percent commission.”
Edmondson said his office identified Oklahoma victims from Shawnee, Newcastle, Pond Creek, Vinita and Midwest City, as well as victims in Colorado, California, Maryland, New Mexico, three in Arizona and two in Texas.
Edmondson’s office began the investigation in November 2000 at the request of the State Treasurer’s Office. The crimes occurred between October 1997 and April 2000.
“My thanks to the attorney general and his consumer protection division. Drew and his staff did an excellent job bringing Mr. DeLuna to justice,” said State Treasurer Robert Butkin. “The public can contact my office directly, at no cost, to see if we have their unclaimed property. There is no need to pay a commission when you file a claim directly through my office.”
Edmondson’s consumer protection unit has statewide jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Anyone with information regarding suspected fraud or scams can contact the attorney general’s consumer protection hotline at 405-521-2029.