A judge must decide this week if prosecutors have enough evidence to send a former Navy SEAL, accused of stealing more than $1.1 million from fellow service members, to trial.
Jason Mullaney, 42, appeared in San Diego court for his preliminary hearing Monday as prosecutors laid out the case against him.
They say the former service member convinced 11 active and retired Navy SEALs and a family friend to invest in his money-lending business Trident Financial Holdings & Acquisitions.
Mullaney has pleaded not guilty to the 29 felony charges against him, including grand theft and fraud.
The first to take the stand Monday was Michael Brown, a police investigator who has been involved in the case since Mullaney’s arrest in 2012.
Brown told the court one of the alleged victims, Andrew Geiger, trusted Mullaney as a family friend and even dated the defendant’s sister.
So when Mullaney asked Geiger to invest in his business, Geiger gave him $50,000 and expected a 24 percent return on his investment, according to Brown.
The friend claims he received nothing in return.
“[Geiger] spoke with Mr. Mullaney, and Mr. Mullaney gave him a series of excuses as to why he couldn't pay him at that time and offered the ability to reinvest for a later time,” said Brown.
The investigator said Mullaney told his investors he was loaning money to borrowers with risky credit, and he gave about $20,000 back to his investors.
The defense pointed out Geiger had said that Mullaney himself had lost money.
April Riel, a forensic accountant for the FBI who examined Mullaney's accounts, also answered questions for the court.
She testified that Mullaney transferred money from his business account to his personal account, which he used for both private and business transactions.
During his cross-examination, Mullaney's attorney grilled Riel on her methods and how she determined if an account is personal or not. She said co-mingling accounts was unusual but would not say it was unethical.