spider web

Saturday, July 6, 2013 – 12:00 p.m.

A prominent San Bernardino businessman is the latest victim apparently duped by a Former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy and a Redlands-based investment advisor.

Cliff Cummings, owner of Toyota of San Bernardino has filed a lawsuit against Former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Burnell and Redlands Investment Advisor John Thornes.

The lawsuit, filed July 3, 2013 in San Bernardino County Superior Court, is seeking $120,000 in damages.

Cummings’ action is the seventh involving what now appears to be a twisted web of fraud.

So far, Burnell has defaulted on two of the actions against him. Court records also show that Burnell’s attorney, Aaron Turner, has filed a motion to be relieved as counsel on a third case.

Thornes is the subject of an administrative enforcement action, by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). over the alleged misappropriation of client funds by way of so-called improper loans to Burnell. Loans that were allegedly used on lavish purchases of luxury items and travel.

Nearly $1 million of the funds in question appear to have been either gambled away or, at a minimum, passed through or laundered at San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, as alleged in the FINRA Complaint.

The FINRA Complaint alleges Thornes aided Burnell in laundering funds to escape or avoid levies by tax authorities.

Thornes is accused of misappropriating some $4.2 million.