Dana Point Harbor Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding County Taxpayers

A county contractor who operated part of Dana Point Harbor pled guilty Thursday to misappropriating public funds by falsifying invoices for more than $130,000 in reimbursements submitted to the county government, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Brian Cleveland Dunn, who was general manager of Vintage Marina Partners, pled guilty to “one felony count of misappropriation of public funds and one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement, with sentencing enhancements of aggravated white collar crime, property damage, and property loss,” according to the DA’s office.

The embezzlement charge stems from allegations that Dunn stole more than $440,000 from the company “by making unauthorized payments with his company’s credit card,” the news release states.

He was sentenced to one year in county jail, three years of formal probation, and was ordered to pay restitution to his employer. Dunn has also paid $132,787 in restitution to the county, according to the DA.

Vintage Marina Partners has managed a part of Dana Point Harbor called the “commercial core” since 2001, according to a county staff report.

In 2008, Dunn started a new company called Organic Tree to buy landscaping materials for county projects.

“Between 2008 and 2012, Dunn purchased landscaping materials and marked up the price of his purchases by as much as 100 percent. He submitted and overbilled the County for over $130,000,” the DA’s release states.

“Between 2007 and 2011, the defendant made unauthorized payments using VMP’s company credit card on personal expenses costing over $400,000. Dunn made unauthorized purchases on clothing, travel, and improvements to his home in Hawaii.”

A review of campaign filings showed that Dunn gave a maxed-out $1,700 contribution to county Supervisor Shawn Nelson in November 2010.

His Organic Tree company also gave $2,000 to then-Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s campaigns for county supervisor and state Senate, the most recent being $500 in April 2014. Nguyen was elected to the Senate last year.

Additionally, Organic Tree gave $1,700 to then-supervisor Pat Bates’ campaign.

You can contact Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • LFOldTimer

    Ah come on. If he was a Republican county exec in good standing do you think there would have been a prosecution at all? At worst they would have thrown him a golden parachute and funded a going-away party with campaign donations and sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” after he gave his final farewell speech. And the entire crowd would be in tears, to include the supes. heh. Excuse me, I gotta go take a shower. But I’ll cut the water as I lather up. 🙂

  • UnitedWeStand

    Can you just imagine what is going on with Bates, Moorlach and Nguyen now that they made it to the Senate????. The electorate needs more awareness of what their local officials are doing otherwise these greedy politicians end up in higher offices. Please stop voting for a candidate simply because they have an “R” after their name. The Republican politicians in Orange County are ruining the party!!! They complain about the government, but can’t even handle local government in Orange County. After learning of his remarks, I am still fuming over the latest local Republican voted into the SC AQMD. Get out your face masks.

  • Paul Lucas

    How exactly did a guy that was caught stealing from the county get another chance to get a second bite at the apple?

  • David Zenger

    And yet for five years between 2008 and 2013 Project Dimensions, Inc. automatically billed about $50k each and every month to “manage” the Dana Point Harbor Revitalization project – regardless of whether there was any progress or not (there wasn’t). County management just kept signing the checks. The amount ran into millions – and (almost) nobody cared about the blatant abuse.