Govt. wants bond revoked for fraud mastermind

By Julie Wernau
Posted Aug. 26, 2010 at 5:18 p.m.

The government is asking a federal court judge to revoke the bond of accused investor David Hernandez, saying he attempted to delay his sentencing by fabricating a letter from a doctor that said he was starting treatment for cancer.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in January to a Ponzi-style scheme that bilked more than 200 people of their savings. The swindle allegedly garnered $6.3 million for Hernandez, which he used to bankroll a now-defunct Chicago sports-talk radio station and other personal purchases.

Federal prosecutors say Hernandez who lives in Downers Grove and is free on bond until a sentencing that could mean up to 14 years in prison — should be locked up because he is a flight risk.

Hernandez has a criminal record and a history of personal bankruptcies and fled the Chicago area in June 2009 after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit against him. He was captured a week later, after an apparent suicide attempt at a Normal hotel.

Hernandez’s arrest brought down Internet-based Chicago Sports Webio, a sports-talk web site created by Chicago radio personality Mike North, who had established the site with Hernandez while sitting out the remainder of his contract with CBS Radio’s WSCR-AM 670.

Hernandez is tracked with a monitoring device while he is out on bond, but the fabricated letter has the government concerned that he may leave his home under false pretenses and attempt to flee, according to court documents. In a previous fraud case brought against Hernandez in 1998 in which he received a five-year supervised release, a judge had him detained before the sentencing after Hernandez was arrested for abducting his children and threatened to flee to Guatemala.

In addition to the letter, which indicated that Hernandez would undergo several months of cancer treatment, including radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, Hernandez failed to show up in court for a status hearing Aug. 19 after his wife claimed he had had a stroke, according to court documents.

Umang Patel — the doctor at Woodridge Clinic who had allegedly signed the letter that indicated that Hernandez had cancer — told a federal agent that his signature had been forged, the letterhead was fake and that Hernandez did not have cancer. And a pretrial services officer said they were able to verify that he was in the hospital but not that he had had a stroke, court documents indicate.

Efforts to reach Dr. Patel Wednesday evening were unsuccessful. Attorneys representing Hernandez and the government had no comment.

A status hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1.

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