He stole millions from a mentally ill Malibu doctor. Now he'll spend nearly 16 years in prison

A Fresno hairstylist will spend nearly 16 years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from a mentally ill doctor and then attempting to defraud the man’s estate after his death.

Anthony David Flores, also known as Anton David, pleaded guilty last year to nine felony violations for his role in the scheme, including wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. His ex-girlfriend, Anna Rene Moore, 40, pleaded guilty to seven felony violations in the same case, according to Flores’ plea agreement.

Before issuing his sentence, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson referenced Flores’ “cruel disregard of the victim’s suffering” and the lack of value that he placed on a human life.

“What this defendant did erodes core values that we as a people have of empathy, compassion and kindness,” Anderson said. “This conduct was solely driven by greed. [Flores] became lost, if you will, in the glitz and the glamour, the cars and the jewelry, living at the beach.”

Anderson also ordered Flores, 47, to pay $1 million in restitution.

During sentencing, Flores’ family members packed the courtroom and watched as their loved one, who had a chain around his waist and his hands cuffed in front of him, read a letter to the court.

“I’m ashamed of myself,” Flores said, adding that he’d allowed “temptation and greed to get the best of me.”

He said that he and the victim, Mark Sawusch, were “like brothers” and that he loved him and would never forget him.

“Your brother? Your friend?” Anderson scoffed. “What is so galling and so disturbing is you knew exactly what you were doing. You knew it was wrong, you knew it was immoral and it simply didn’t matter to you.”

As Flores prepared to leave the courtroom, he turned and smiled at his family and told them, “I love you.”

Flores’ attorney, Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, argued for a sentence of no more than 33 to 41 months, stating that his client took responsibility and pleaded guilty and has no criminal history.

“Obviously we accept the judge’s sentence, but we’re disappointed,” Rodriguez said after sentencing. He described Flores’ family, who declined to speak to reporters, as “devastated.”

In a statement provided to reporters, the Sawusch family said they were “finally finding some comfort in knowing these relentless criminals have pled guilty, confessed to their widespread web of deceit and lies, and are facing the consequences.”

“There is nothing worse than those who prey upon the highly vulnerable,” the statement read.

Read more: The actor, the hairstylist and the eye surgeon: Drugs and death in a Malibu beach house

Flores and Moore met Sawusch, an ophthalmologist worth more than $60 million, at an ice cream parlor off Venice Beach in June 2017. Sawusch suffered from bipolar disorder and had lost the ability to care for himself after multiple hospitalizations, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California.

Oceanfront home on Pacific Coast Highway
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Within days of meeting Sawusch, federal prosecutors said, Flores and Moore moved into his beachfront Malibu home — where they lived rent-free — and pretended to be his caregivers and new best friends. They lived with Sawusch from September 2017 until his death in May 2018.

Flores admitted in the plea agreement that he persuaded Sawusch to grant him power of attorney during a mental breakdown so severe that it ended in the doctor’s arrest in September 2017. Flores told Sawusch on recorded jail calls that it would be a “very limited” power of attorney and only used to manage his affairs while he was in custody.

Evidence of what Dr. Sawusch's life was actually like with Anthony Flores and Anna Moore.
Anthony Flores, Anna Moore and Mark Sawusch in 2017. (Federal court filings)

But the power of attorney was never revoked after Sawusch’s release from jail. Flores used it to open bank accounts in Sawusch’s name and gain access to his money, prosecutors said.

Days before Sawusch’s death, Flores and Moore gave him LSD, which sent Sawusch’s mental health into a tailspin, authorities said. While Sawusch was under the influence, Flores changed the two-factor authentication on Sawusch’s brokerage account to go to Flores’ phone, then initiated two $1-million wire transfers that ended up in his and Moore’s bank accounts.

Sawusch died alone in his home that Memorial Day weekend. The plea agreement revealed that, before his death, Flores and Moore had been surveilling Sawusch from a luxury hotel in Santa Monica via the security cameras in his house.

The L.A. County coroner found it was an accidental death caused by ketamine and alcohol intoxication.

But a pathologist who did an autopsy found that the “therapeutic levels of ketamine” and small amount of alcohol “did not significantly contribute to the immediate cause of death.” Sawusch died as a result of two heart conditions, the pathologist concluded: dilated cardiomyopathy and a congenitally narrow coronary artery.

After his death, Flores and Moore continued to withdraw money from his accounts until Sawusch’s mother and sister sued them. The funds were frozen, but Flores and Moore attempted to salvage them through various money-laundering schemes.

In late 2018, Flores and Moore claimed Sawusch had promised them his house and one-third of his estate, but he was unable to change his will before his death. The ensuing litigation over Sawusch’s estate resulted in the pair withdrawing their claims and agreeing to repay the estate $1 million.

During the sentencing hearing, Anderson said that judgment remains unpaid and some of the funds Flores misappropriated remain unaccounted for.

Flores offered an apology to the Sawusch family for “using the legal system” against them.

Rodriguez, Flores’ attorney, gestured to the more than a dozen family members and friends who were seated in the courtroom.

“This is not a person who has created a life of crime,” Rodriguez said. “He has created friends and families that are here to support him.”

Assistant U.S. Atty. Andrew M. Roach acknowledged that Flores had his family there and had their support, but he noted Sawusch “was really targeted because he didn’t have that support.”

“That allowed [Flores] to get control and take control of his life,” Roach said.

Moore is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 28.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.