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Monday, March 17, 2014

CHANGING THE PLANET: The True Story of The Fitness Model, Her Muscled-Up Juicehead Husband, The Crooked Chiropractor...and $1.25 Million Dollars

Lea Denee Damante
In January 2009, Robert Buckhannon's Arcanum Equity Fund wired $1,000,000 to a corporation owned by a sleazy Las Vegas character named David Damante. And even though Damante is now in a federal prison serving 41 months for wire fraud, that suspicious $1,000,000 transaction seemed to have slipped below the radar. Miss Fortune examines the case of 'The Fitness Model, her Muscled-Up Juicehead Husband and the Crooked Chiropractor.

 
On January 23, 2009, David Damante rolled out of bed and padded down the hall of the Henderson, Nevada rental home he shared with his "fitness model" wife Lea Denee. It would turn out to be a great day—a million dollar day, in fact. 

That million dollars would come in the form of a wire transfer from Robert Buckhannon’s Arcanum hedge fund. The money has mysteriously "disappeared", and it appears that the "crooked chiropractor" just walked away from his "investment".

Or did he?

DAVE AND LEA

David R. Damante
Damante and his then-wife (they've since divorced) formed a home-based business they modestly called “Changing The Planet LLC” on October 10, 2008. Damante named himself the corporation’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Damante was also the Chief Financial Officer of another Nevada corporation, Sinymante Enterprises LLC (formed on September 25, 2007). 

On ActiveRain, a real estate networking site, Damante's profile page (listed under the name "ifundumm") claimed that he worked as a "Real Estate Mortgage Broker" with Mayflower Mortgage in Las Vegas.

Mayflower was run by Derrick Presley but neither Presley nor his company were licensed as mortgage brokers or mortgage loan originators.

And neither was Damante. 

But that didn't stop "ifundumm" from proclaiming (in broken English, apparently):

Our areas of expertise and knowledge are embedded in high end financing including: High rise condos, Casino's, Commerical buildings, Raw land and construction to perm loans as well.. We have fallout contacts with Turnburry Towers, Trump International, and many loft devolpments. I am also great at retrieving financing for harder to qualify people, and or LLC's.. Our srevice is never overlooked as well as the Disconcerning Buyer will tell you," Without the loan,There is no home"! As we are a Banker and a Broker we have many resources to finding what the client needs as their expectations!

Oy!


Damante’s partners in Sinymante included Sean Sinykin (left), a California realtor and mortgage broker with a petty theft background and California insurance agent (and future Equity Investment Management and Trading Inc. Ponzi king) William Sassman.




Roughly six months before Damante formed Changing the Planet, Sinykin and Damante had convinced a Henderson realtor, Douglas Johnson, to invest $1,000,000 in a "gold mine deal".

Court records reveal that Damante told Johnson that if he invested the $1,000,000 towards Sinymante’s purchase of an $80 billion dollar gold mine, Damante and Sinymante would reimburse Johnson his million dollars—and kick in an additional $1,000,000 and then cut Johnson in for a percentage of the mining claim.


Damante assured Johnson that he would use his $1,000,000 to form “corporate bonds and other financing instruments” for the mine purchase.

In early August 2008, Damante greased the skids for the Johnson deal by arranging a meeting with a prominent businessman described in court documents only as “SR”.  Damante claimed that SR was a Sinymante partner, although that was just part of the con. 

On August 14, 2008, Johnson delivered $1,000,000 by interstate wire transfers and a cashier’s check to a Sinymante account controlled by Damante.

Later that day, Damante used nearly $250,000 of Johnson’s money to buy himself a 2006 Ferrari F430 F1.  Four days later, on August 18, 2008, Damante plunked down $113,000 to buy another car—a brand new 2009 Mercedes Benz SL550. Damante continued to make cash withdrawals from the Sinymante account, using approximately $88,000 of additional money from Johnson’s investment.

And on August 15, 2008, Damante finally cut his partner, Sean Sinykin, in.

Damante wired nearly $500,000 to Sinykin, who did not use the money to finance the purchase of an $80 billion dollar gold mine.

Court documents reveal that Sean Sinykin used Johnson’s $500,000 for his own personal uses and uses unrelated to the purported gold mine.

In mid-November 2008, Damante allayed Johnson’s suspicions about his “investment”, telling Johnson that he’d used Johnson’s funds for payment of “securities lawyers’ fees, to register the asset, and to pay expenses related to the investment.”
 

Johnson apparently bought the explanation, and Damante moved into another con, one he called “Changing The Planet”.

(The account with Johnson’s investment, controlled by Damante, was finally closed on November 12, 2009—with $202.09 remaining.)



CHANGING THE PLANET...ONE MILLION DOLLARS AT A TIME

Damante used Changing the Planet to market fraudulent high-yield investments he called “'medium term notes'' through a private placement program.

On January 23, 2009, Robert Buckhannon’s Arcanum Equity Fund wired $1,000,000 of investor money from its Las Vegas Wachovia bank account to a Wells Fargo account controlled by Dave Damante’s Changing The Planet LLC.

And, except for a “personal property” declaration on AEF’s April 9, 2010 bankruptcy claiming a “$1,250,000 Changing The Planet Note”, that’s where the money trail ended.

Or did it?


A couple months later, flush with cash plucked from the pockets of Robert Buckhannon's investors, Damante convinced two Japanese investors, identified in court documents as T. Kokuban and K. Hurota, to invest $2,000,000 in  “medium term notes” through Changing The Planet’s “private placement program”. Damante claimed that his proprietary (and non-existent) trading program would yield a return of 25 percent per month over 40 trading weeks.


On March 17, 2009, Damante and Kokuban executed a “Collateral Asset Supply Agreement” establishing Changing The Planet’s obligations and return on Kokuban’s investment. On April 1, 2009, Kokuban and Hurota wired a $2,000,000 United States Treasury Bill from a bank account in New York to Changing The Planet’s Wells Fargo account in Las Vegas—the same account Buckhannon wired $1,000,000 to less than three months before.

Damante made three payments of $125,000 each to Kokuban and Hurota, but failed to make any additional payments due consistent with the  “Collateral Asset Supply Agreement”.


But Damante did not place the money into an investment, nor did he use the money as collateral for an investment. Instead, on April 9, 2009, Damante transferred the $2,000,000 (minus fees) to another Wells Fargo Changing the Planet account. After routing the $2,000,000 through several bank accounts, the defendant eventually sent $750,000 to his wife’s personal Bank of America account, and $125,000 to a Changing the Planet Bank of America account.

In addition, the Damante made $344,995.64 in payments to buy cars, and another $44,635.67 to buy a boat. The defendant made a $375,000 payment to middle-man described in court documents as "DO", who helped broker the deal for the purposes of making payments to K.H. under the written agreement. The defendant also made a $25,000 payment to his mother, $165,000 in charitable donations, and withdrew $30,000 in cash from one of his accounts.
 

David Damante was finally arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 23, 2011, and charged with wire fraud and aiding and abetting.

The indictment alleged that Damante “fraudulently obtained $1 million from one victim and $2 million from two other victims through false representations that the funds would be invested and that the victims would receive substantial profits on their investments.”

Funny, no mention of the $1,000,000 Damante received from Robert Buckhannon’s Arcanum Equity Fund. Wonder why the "crooked chiropractor" didn't even show up in Damante's indictment? And why was that loss ever mentioned during any of Buckhannon's SEC negotiations?

Because Damante resided in Arizona, he was supervised by the United States Probation Office in the District of Arizona. In early October 2011, Pretrial Services for the District of Nevada was informed that Mr. Damante obtained two new financial obligations -- he attempted to purchase a car and was conditionally approved for a $3 million home loan -- without prior approval from Pretrial Services.

An Arizona detective conducted research regarding the home loan. According to the detective, the alleged creator of the pre-approval letter for the home mortgage indicated that she had never met Mr. Damante, and upon reviewing the document, stated that it was a fraudulently created document.

On October 14, 2011, Damante was arrested for violating of Pretrial Services release conditions, and made his initial appearance on that date before Magistrate Judge Burns. Magistrate Judge Burns released Mr. Damante on amended conditions of release. The amended terms of release included all previously imposed conditions of release as set by the District of Nevada as well as an additional term:
 

Defendant shall not enter into any financial accounts to include bank accounts, money market accounts, stock accounts, credit union accounts, and credit card accounts, and shall also not enter into any financial obligations to include secure transactions, purchase agreements, any financial applications in excess of $1,500, with the exclusion of appropriate legal defense expenditures, without prior notification and approval of Pretrial Services.

But Damante didn't stop.

On October 27, 2011, Damante requested permission from Pretrial Services to attend his father-in-law's funeral. Before granting the request, Pretrial Services requested specific information about Mr. Damante's travel plans. It learned that Mr. Damante would travel to California from October 28, 2011-November 1, 2011 and would stay at the home of Dr. Scott Zawaba, a friend of his. Dr. Zawaba verified Damante’s plan to stay with him during this time period.
Pretrial Services advised Damante that he must return to the District of Arizona no later than 3:30 PM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, and that he must check-in in person with Pretrial Services at that date and time.

However, on November 2, 2011, Pretrial Services contacted Dr. Zawaba and was informed that Mr. Damante did not stay at his residence while he was in California, nor had he heard from Mr. Damante "since last week." Pretrial Services then contacted Damante’s wife, Lea Denee Damante, who informed Pretrial Services that Damante stayed with her and her mother in Applegate, California all week. Ms. Damante informed Pretrial Services that her husband was on his way back to the District of Arizona.

However, later that day Mr. Damante contacted Pretrial Services and informed that he was in Los Angeles with only $6 in his pocket, and therefore could not make it back to Arizona by 3:30 PM. He then requested that he be allowed to relocate to Laguna Niguel, California for employment purposes.

Pretrial Services requested that Mr. Damante provide the contact information of the friend he planned to live with in California and information regarding his potential employer for verification purposes. However, Damante failed to provide this information to Pretrial Services, so his request for modification of pretrial release was not immediately granted.

On November 2, 2011, Damante appeared telephonically before Magistrate Judge Foley on a Hearing on Defendant's Motion to Modify Conditions of Release. Judge Foley denied Defendant's request. At a November 21, 2011, hearing on Defendant's Motion to Modify Conditions of Release, Judge Foley added several conditions to Mr. Damante's release conditions.

But Damante still didn’t stop conning.

On January 9, 2012, Mr. Damante contacted his supervising officer in the Central District of California and requested permission to obtain a loan for $160,000 "against one of my Ferraris," which had been seized by the government. The request was denied on January 10, 2012. On January 11, 2012, Mr. Damante contacted his supervising officer and indicated that he would like to purchase a home in Newport Beach for $5 million.

He requested permission to obtain this new financial obligation. On January 18, 2012, Mr. Damante's supervision officer contacted him and advised him that his requests to obtain a loan on his seized Ferrari and/or to purchase a home in Newport Beach were both denied. Pretrial Services informed Mr. Damante that his requests were denied because he failed to provide the Office with verification and documentation regarding the financial transactions.

On January 25, 2012, Mr. Damante contacted his supervising officer in California to request permission to open a bank account at US Bank in order to obtain a $2 million loan. When the supervising officer requested the name and contact information of Mr. Damante's friend at US Bank whom would provide him the loan, Mr. Damante became agitated and refused to provide the information. Pretrial Services denied Mr. Damante's loan request. Mr. Damante later requested permission to obtain a $2.5 million loan through Deutsche Bank. 


Because of Mr. Damante's several requests to obtain large financial obligations, on February 9, 2012, the Court amended the terms of Mr. Damante's pretrial release, determining that Damante enter into financial transactions in his own true lawful name and must gain approval from the Court, and not Pretrial Services, before entering into any financial obligation over $1,500.

On May 24, 2012, a FBI agent informed Pretrial Services that it had been contacted by a man named Mike Krasowki, Mr. Damante's friend. Krasowski indicated that Damante was in the process of purchasing a home at 33 Vista Montemar, Laguna Niguel for $1.5 million. On June 1, 2012, Mr. Damante's supervising officer in California instructed Mr. Damante to report to Pretrial Services by 4:00 PM to sign the required documents for Pretrial Services to obtain the relevant escrow information, which Mr. Damante had not provided to Pretrial Services. Mr. Damante did not report to the office as instructed.

On June 1, 2012, Pretrial Services submitted a Violation Memorandum to Magistrate Judge Foley and a warrant for Defendant's arrest was issued. Mr. Damante was taken into custody and made an initial appearance on June 8, 2012.

He was subsequently released on an Appearance Bond of $50,000. Magistrate Judge Foley added a further term of release: Defendant must sign a release of financial information form.

On June 13, 2012, Mr. Damante appeared before Magistrate Judge Hoffman for the Initial Appearance on the Revocation of Pretrial Release.

Damante was ordered released on the same conditions as previously imposed pending the Revocation Hearing.

Damante was also ordered to appear before Magistrate Judge Foley on the Revocation Hearing on July 11, 2012. However, Damante failed to appear. A bench warrant was then issued for his arrest.

According to Mr. Damante's supervising officer in California, Mr. Damante traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday July 13, 2012, and self-surrendered to the United States Magistrate Judge on the outstanding warrant. Mr. Damante then appeared before Magistrate Judge Hoffman on July 16, 2012, and was ordered detained pending the Revocation Hearing before Magistrate Judge Foley.

On July 23, 2012, Foley revoked Damante’s pretrial release and ordered him taken into custody, where he remained until he accepted a plea deal on November 11, 2012. Damante pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud.


On February 19, 2014, Damante was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison.

He’s asked that he serve his time in Arizona. (And people in hell want ice water!)



WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MILLION DOLLARS ROBERT BUCKHANNON WIRED TO DAMANTE?

It appears that the money just went into Damante's account, and didn't play a role in his federal trial.

However, could Damante have withdrawn the cash, transferred it to another account, or used the cash to start an off-the-books business with Buckhannon?

Yes, each one is possible...and the only ones who know aren't talking.

And what about Lea Denee?

She was not charged in the case, and divorced Damante and moved back to California.  Miss Fortune thinks Miss Lea looks strong enough to take care of herself, thank you very much!


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