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Financial Advisor Pleads Not Guilty in Santa Monica Murder Case  

 

By Jorge Casuso

April 10, 2012 -- The financial advisor charged with killing a Santa Monica client as part of a complex murder-for-profit scheme pleaded not guilty to murder charges Monday.

Daniel Edward Becerril II, owner of the Huntington Beach-based AP Financial Group, is accused of stealing more than $500,000 from Alexander Merman, then stabbing the artist and teacher to death when he discovered the money had been stolen.

Becerril -- who is being held at Men's Central Jail on $2.4 million bail -- is expected back in court on May 15. Prosecutors had argued that Becerril was a flight risk and should be held without bail.

Becerril was arrested in Orange County after a four-year-long investigation into the killing of the 35-year-old Russia-born art teacher, whose body was discovered on March 19, 2008 in his Montana Avenue condo.

Merman’s body was found after police received a telephone call from the building manager, who had entered the unit to check on Merman's well being.

The building manager had been asked by the victim’s mother to check on her son's status after she had to failed to contact him for several days, police said.

Police allege Becerril owed Merman $250,000 and stole an additional $300,000 from his investment accounts. Police said there is evidence to tie the financial advisor to Merman’s killing, which took place shortly after he discovered Becerril’s theft of his money.

While investigating the theft, police said, investigators uncovered a conspiracy involving employees of AP Financial that involved the fraudulent acquisition of homes.

Becerril was charged with one count of murder, as well as six counts of grand theft and multiple counts of forgery and money laundering related to approximately $700,000 in thefts.

Becerril’s wife, Sandra Becerril was also arrested for multiple counts of forgery and grand theft.

Merman’s body was found four days after Juliana Redding, a 21-year-old aspiring model, was also found dead in her Santa Monica apartment. Police said the killings were not related.

 


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