Scoop investigation waiting on accounting report
Summit County, CO ColoradoBRECKENRIDGE – The amount of money Breckenridge lawyer Royal “Scoop” Daniel allegedly defrauded his clients of before disappearing in late April is growing, but police won’t have an exact number until a detailed accounting report is complete.In early May, police estimated about $561,000 of clients’ money was missing; recent estimates put that number at closer to $800,000, said Breckenridge Sgt. Susan Quesada. Six potential victims have come forward, Quesada said.One of those victims, Breckenridge local Dick Yankowski, reportedly lost more than $192,000 at the hands of Daniel, a man he considered a close friend and someone he had hosted at social gatherings in his home on numerous occasions.”He built a very close relationship and trust with us, so it was a shocking type of situation,” Yankowski said. According to a recently-unsealed search warrant affidavit, Yankowski loaned Daniel $200,000 in 2003, which Daniel secured with his home at 50 Club House Road outside Breckenridge. Daniel never gave Yankowski the recorded deed of trust securing the home as collateral as promised, but continued paying the loan through March of this year.Unbeknownst to Yankowski, Daniel sold the home in 2005 for $246,500, according to county property records. Now, Yankowski is out $192,068.21 since the deed of trust was never filed on the property and it’s been sold, the affidavit says.Yankowski, who’d used Daniel as an attorney in a number of personal and business matters over nearly 15 years without any problems, said he doesn’t plan on filing a civil lawsuit against in an effort to recoup his losses. The expensive and arduous court process wouldn’t be worth the small chance of winning any restitution, he said.Police have said Daniel has a balance of about $230,000 in various bank accounts.Yankowski’s situation is unique in terms of other reports of theft that have surfaced in light of Daniel’s disappearance.Sgt. Quesada said most of Daniel’s alleged victims live outside the county, but had owned investment property here and used Daniel during real estate transactions.Daniel was a qualified intermediary for 1031 real estate exchanges, a process used to defer capital gains taxes when selling an investment property.One couple reportedly lost $80,303.10 from the proceeds of the sale of their condo in Keystone, which Daniel handled as a qualified intermediary, when Daniel obtained their money from the title company holding the funds, but never passed it on to them. For now, the investigation into exactly how much money is missing is in a “holding pattern” while police wait for to hear from a private firm hired to compile a detailed accounting report, which includes examining Daniel’s 11 bank accounts, Quesada said.”Once we get that back, that should be the nut of our case,” Quesada said.District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has filed two felony charges against Daniel – theft of more than $15,000 and commercial bribery and breach of duty to act disinterestedly – but he said more charges could come based on the outcome of the accounting report.The state Supreme Court suspended Daniel’s law license two weeks ago based on reports of missing money from clients.Daniel, a well-known member of the community, disappeared from his Ski Hill Road law firm on April 27, prompting a large-scale search effort. Twelve days later, police announced he was wanted for theft and issued a warrant for his arrest.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.
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