David Prenatt

Courtesy Photo

David Prenatt

Accused Ponzi Schemer Faces 45 More Years in Prison

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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A Montecito man convicted of federal fraud charges and sentenced in December to more than four years in prison is now facing another 45 years behind bars for allegedly bilking 17 investors out of $13 million in a high-profile Ponzi scheme. The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office has filed a 96-count complaint against David Prenatt, who is scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors allege 53-year-old Prenatt, in his roles as a commercial loan broker and real estate agent, charmed a number of area residents into investing in home or hotel deals between 2007 and 2009, but then used much of the funds to support “an extravagant lifestyle.” He allegedly spent $500,000 on rehab for his daughter, $350,000 on cars, $350,000 on mortgage payments, $250,000 on travel expenses, and so on.

Prenatt, however, has claimed that he was a victim of the recession and was simply unable to pay back the private loans. His daughter has made statements to the media that Prenatt is struggling in prison, losing weight and battling depression. Public defender Mark Owens did not return a request for comment on the case.

Prenatt’s victims, many of them well-heeled Montecito residents and some of them personal friends, have written letters to authorities detailing the fallout from Prenatt’s alleged Ponzi scheme. They say they were forced to sell their homes and now can no longer retire. Before his arrest, Prenatt had also ingratiated himself with many local nonprofits, including mental health organizations.

The District Attorney’s Office said much of the incriminating evidence was laid out in a 2012 trustee’s report completed after Prenatt filed for bankruptcy.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

So many fraud cases in Montecito… this one. Orson Mozes, Adam Tayler, Donald & James McGhan, Kyleen Dawson, Megan Amsler, Dean Koch, Sergei Grishin, Randy Quaid, Evi Quaid… only captured maybe 1/10 of it there, in the past few years.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 1:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's Montecito, they know where to hit. Follow the money, you find the scammers. It's a miracle more don't happen in Hope Ranch, maybe they're just tighter with their moolah.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 3:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hope Ranch… uh… Read Slatkin and Ronald Rakow… one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history.

I think you can find some fraudsters who benefitted from NINJA home loans residing in Hope Ranch too.

The societal damage done by the frauds of Montecito and Hope Ranch dwarfs anything that has ever gone on in Isla Vista. And it is entirely unexamined… money is king in Hope Ranch & Montecito, no matter how ill gotten.

Anyone say Bob Haldeman? A nice Hope Ranch resident.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What does Haldeman have to do with Prenatt?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 7:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Lemme jump in here. They are both convicted white collar criminals.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 7:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What's the difference between a crook and a philanthropist?

A crook steals a million dollars.
A philanthropist steals a billion dollars and gives back a million.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 7:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OK, but does that imply that all people in Hope Ranch are criminals?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 7:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

By the way, I just read Blackpoodles' comment and if this were Facebook, I'd click the "like" button.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 29, 2014 at 7:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

26 arrests of UCSB and SBCC students in Isla Vista doesn't imply that the 20,000 people in the IV area are criminals either.

But only in Hope Ranch & Montecito are there billion-$ criminals. I'm sure many of the residents of those places are not criminals. But they certainly do a lot less to fight fraud than IV residents do to fight the degradation of their abode.

Doubt that? Go on an adopt-a-block cleanup after each weekend. The great majority of IV & UCSB residents don't go out on the streets at all on Deltopia or Halloween or weekend nights.

And it is a hoot to claim young people throughout SoCal and the Southwest of the US need invitations to come to a place with beautiful beaches and beautiful young people. They come uninvited.

Doesn't stop people from claiming IV is a town full of criminals and miscreants.

The crimes residents of Montecito and Hope Ranch dwarf anything ever done in IV. A partial list is given above.

H.R. Haldeman lived in Hope Ranch, convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy. His conversation with Nixon was erased in the famous 18 1/2 minute gap. And he referred to the JF Kennedy assassination as the `whole Bay of Pigs thing'.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
April 30, 2014 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Please folks...if you have something to add to this story do so--- in the meantime you take up space for comments about Mr. Prenatt's story. One of greed, self interest, lies, deceit.... The actions of Mr.Prenatt to borrow money for so called legitimate investments and use that money to carry on HIS lavish life-style...all the time knowing he would not be able to pay back investors, is not only a crime, but a moral outrage! Please be careful of folks in our community who may appear to be what they are NOT!!

Ponzivictim (anonymous profile)
April 30, 2014 at 11:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Have fun getting your ponzi schemed in prison, you scumbag loser.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
April 30, 2014 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That Montecito and Hope Ranch are `Scamma-Barbara' at the $billion level, and, that Goleta, Carpinteria, and Isla Vista are *not* is a completely germane topic here.

As is that fact that Montecito and Hope Ranch do *nothing* to reduce the huge fraud rates in their neighborhoods.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
April 30, 2014 at 2:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yikes! A lot of crooks in town .. Hopefully Chris Bagdasarian and Tori Briggs will be moving out of Santa Barbara soon !

VioletFlame (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2014 at 5:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I used to observe Prenatt working the crowd at Montecito Starbucks, pressing the flesh, beaming and looking sporty, guffawing about this and that...almost literally kissing babies... I feel sorry for the ponzivictims, but how hard was it to see through such a compleat BS'er??

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2014 at 6:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

but Bagdasarian got off.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2014 at 8:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I wish his good looks and charm could have been put to better use. God Bless him and all those who are suffering from his mistakes.

VioletFlame (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2014 at 8:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bag served a year

VioletFlame (anonymous profile)
May 2, 2014 at 5:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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