Ex-Filipino athlete David Bunevacz faces up to 40 years in prison

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Former Filipino Southeast Asian Games Athlete David Bunevacz (left) could face up to 40 years in prison. He is due to be sentenced on November 21. (Photo: David Bunevacz/Facebook)
Former Filipino Southeast Asian Games Athlete David Bunevacz (left) could face up to 40 years in prison. He is due to be sentenced on November 21. (Photo: David Bunevacz/Facebook)

California-based former decathlete and delegate of the Philippines to the Southeast Asian Games, David Bunevacz, has pleaded guilty on charges of defrauding cannabis-industry investors.

Appearing before a federal judge in California’s Central District, Bunevacz pleaded guilty to one count each of securities and wire fraud, after setting up fake cannabis vaping businesses and tricking his clients into giving him a total sum of $37 million. He was arrested in April.

Authorities claim he used the money to support his lavish lifestyle like owning cars, horses, luxury goods like diamond earrings, Rolex, and Hermes bags.

He also gambled more than $8 million in the casinos, and spent more than $200,000 for his daughter’s 16th birthday party.

According to records obtained at the time of his arrest, Bunevacz scammed his clients for more than a decade, and lied about his business connections, forged bank statements and legal settlements, laundered money, and concealed prior legal troubles.

Back in the Philippines, Bunevacz had been a notorious “peripatetic grifter” who ran out of the country for stealing from the cosmetic surgery clinic he was running, and made several large-scale purchases such as a BMW X5 as a gift for his wife on their anniversary.

Meanwhile, during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, he was also involved in an alleged ticket sales scheme, with the owner of the ticket-selling operation claiming that he paid Bunevacz $3 million for 17,000 tickets that never arrived to his customers.

It was later settled through a $325,000 settlement before a federal court, but in 2022, authorities found out that Bunevacz created a counterfeit of the agreement that says the case was resolved in his favor.

Bunevacz will face up to 40 years in prison and, as part of the plea deal, the United States Attorney’s office will move to dismiss the money laundering and identity theft related to the fraud charges against him.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 21.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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