New documents filed in court today gave a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the federal investigation of Jim McConville, the Bay Area man at the center of our Staggering Swindle investigation last year.

McConville appeared today in court in Oakland, where a judge did not allow him to be released on bail.

Prosecutors filed this report in federal court to convince the judge that McConville is a flight risk and argued that the people who might post bond for his release on bail didn’t have income separate from the “defendant’s fraudulent schemes.”

I found the section particularly notable, detailing what federal agents found when they searched a storage locker in Castro Valley on May 14. That’s where McConville moved his office after he couldn’t make payments on his ranch, the documents say. Here’s some of what they found:

In the make-shift office, agents found newspaper articles about McConville’s involvement in mortgage fraud demonstrating the defendant’s awareness of the public scrutiny of his involvement in the fraud. They also found on the top of one of the desks several notes in the defendant’s own handwriting outlining international and domestic investments. These handwritten notes were found on top of one of the desks suggesting that the notes had been created or reviewed recently.

They also found notes suggesting that McConville has investments in offshore companies on Nevis, a small island in the Caribbean; that he has money in Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Sweden (the “majority”), and Cyprus (“quick access”), and that he has purchased foreign currency — “namely Iraqi dinars and significant amounts of Vietnamese Dong.”

The whole thing is worth a read, but here are some other interesting things I found:

• Federal agents pulled phone records to learn McConville had spoken with an attorney the day after he was indicted in May, but he didn’t turn himself in. When he was arrested more than a month later in a “very small town” 30 miles west of Bakersfield, McConville lied and said he didn’t know he was wanted on federal charges, prosecutors say. “The defendant had three large rolls of cash in his pockets,” according to the court documents.

• McConville and his wife filed a joint tax return in 2008 for only $25,000 even though that was the same year he obtained more than $11 million from the deals he arranged for the approximately 80 condos in Escondido and San Marcos he used rented identities to buy, the documents say.

• McConville used the names of his daughter, Nicole; one of his sons, Justin; and his wife, Clara, to set up businesses and bank accounts. “The defendant’s family has actively helped the defendant commit fraud; his family has supported itself almost solely from the fraudulent proceeds; and the defendant’s family has continued to help him hide from law enforcement after learning of the investigation, indictment, and arrest warrant,” the documents say.

• “This defendant is not a man who goes home to his family at the same house every night,” prosecutors say. “By his own admission to pretrial services, he has lived in multiple locations the past year and at different multiple locations before that.”

• Four of the eight people McConville pointed to post bond so he could be released on bail are in his immediate family. The other three are closely related to his family — his son’s girlfriend, his brother-in-law, and his daughter’s best friend, who was allegedly observed “shredding documents at the defendant’s ranch in late 2008.”


Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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