David Bunevach’s life seemed too good to be true.
The handsome international athlete, who represented UCLA and the Philippines in the decathlon, roared through Los Angeles in his yellow Lamborghini, returning home to his ex-model wife and model daughter for lavish parties at the mansion once owned by Kylie. Jenner:
To his friends, he was a jet-set businessman who generously included them in his lucrative deals and was involved in California’s booming marijuana business.
The idyllic image was shattered when friends were horrified to learn that Bunevach’s seemingly gilded existence was indeed a sham after he was arrested and charged with a $35 million fraud last year.
David Bunewach and his wife, Jessica Rodriguez, lived the life of luxury until he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for a $35 million fraud.
Bunevatz and his family lived in this Calabasas mansion, which previously belonged to Kylie Jenner.
Bunevach’s remarkable rise and fall began in Los Angeles, where he was born, the son of Hungarian restaurant owner Joseph Bunevach and Filipina nurse Filomena, who moved to California from the Philippines in the late 1960s.
Young David was a high school track and field star, excelling in the high jump, javelin and hurdles.
He went on to compete for the Philippines in the 1997 Southeast Asian Games, placing second in the decathlon.
Bunevatz settled in Manila, working in television, co-hosting a sports and travel TV show, and landing some small acting roles.
He met his wife, Jessica Rodriguez, a model and talent manager, and in 2006 Bunevach opened a plastic surgery clinic in Manila, advertised with a giant billboard that read “Miss Ugly No More.”
Jessica Rodriguez is pictured with model and equestrian daughter Breanna
However, business soon soured. Bunevaci was accused of defrauding investors and beaten, threatened at gunpoint and forced to sign over his Porsche Cayenne Turbo, according to The Los Angeles Times.
He fled the country with his wife, returning to California.
Jessica wrote a book for “polished women”
When Bunevach told the story of their departure to a friend, he told the newspaper: “A little mix of Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones.”
Bunevatz seemed to thrive in Los Angeles.
His wife wrote a book about “good” marriage. a manual she called “polished women”.
In 2008, he launched an audacious plan to secure tickets to the Beijing Olympics, partnering with Atlanta ticket broker Gene Hammett.
Hammett was attracted by the charming and friendly businessman. Bunevach invited Hammett to his room at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, where they watched Usain Bolt break the 100-meter world record.
Bunevach told Hammett that he could get him tickets to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver; Hammett paid $2.9 million for 17,000.
The tickets never came.
Hammett was sued and went bankrupt. he lost his house.
The Gamilies are pictured on one of their frequent luxury vacations
Prosecutors showed Jessica’s collection of shoes and handbags
Meanwhile, Bunewatz ripped off Hammett’s cash; the money was spent on the likes of Tiffany’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Giorgio Armani and Hermès, as well as the Ritz Carlton spa in Georgia and the Bacara resort in Santa Barbara, said Hammett’s attorney Filippo Marcino.
Bunevach’s account at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas was transferred huge sums of money, including $125,000 just before Christmas.
“He was just burning money as soon as he got it,” said Damon Rogers, another of Hammett’s attorneys.
The case was settled four years later for just $325,000.
Meanwhile, Bunevach’s fraud continued.
Around 2010, he pulled off another scam, offering investors an “opportunity” to buy a company he claimed was buying vape pens from China and reselling them in the US at a substantial markup.
He convinced dozens of friends and acquaintances to invest, including his dentist.
The money was not spent on business.
A $218,000 party was organized for his daughter Breanna’s 16th birthday.
It was held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Brentwood and featured rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
He was bought a $330,000 horse named Vondel, and the elite show jumping circles he moved into allowed his father to take advantage of other people he defrauded.
Breanna Bunevatz with her $300,000 horse Vondel and her YSL bag in the stables
Breanna and one of her horses in action
Breanna started her modeling career and starred in the TV series Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid, the mother of Bella and Gigi.
In January 2019, he threw his wife a lavish party at Nobu in Malibu and commissioned Crazy Rich Asians-style posters to promote the bash.
Bunevach bought $209,500 worth of diamond earrings from Beverly Hills jewelry stores. a diamond ring for $195,000; Rolex Submariner Watch $14,215; and three bracelets and two Hermès Birkin bags for $46,500.
Jeffrey Elliott, a Sheriff’s Department detective in the Chatsworth Fraud Unit, eventually obtained a search warrant to search the Calabasas mansion.
Detectives seized files and documents they used to prosecute Bunevach.
He was arrested in April and pleaded guilty to fraud in July.
In November, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison and ordered to pay back the $35 million he defrauded more than 100 investors.
It is considered unlikely that any of his victims will ever see their money again.
The FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission joined the investigation.
Elliott, in his arrest warrant, called Bunewach an “extreme crook” who falsified financial records for millions of investors.
US District Judge Dale S. Fisher, who sentenced him in November, decided to exceed the sentence recommended by prosecutors, saying he felt he had no remorse for the life he ruined.
“His goal was to provide for himself and his family with the ultra-extravagant lifestyle they displayed on social media,” he said.
“I’m not at all convinced that Mr. Bunevach regrets anything other than being caught.”