Their shared hippie spirit brought them together over a vegan potluck dinner, but the prospect of years in prison for allegedly stealing millions from a mentally ill Malibu doctor has driven a wedge between them.
A federal fraud prosecution against a pair of yoga gurus accused of siphoning money from Dr. Mark Sawusch took a major turn in late August when one pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the other, her ex-boyfriend, according to court documents and people familiar with the case.
Anna Moore’s guilty plea before a federal judge in Los Angeles on August 28 poses a serious legal challenge for her longtime partner, Anthony Flores, who faces decades behind bars if convicted in the case. Flores pleaded not guilty after his arrest in January.
Details of Moore’s agreement with federal prosecutors remain secret, but people familiar with the case say her ultimate sentence in the case will largely be determined after her level of cooperation is evaluated. A sentencing hearing for Moore was scheduled for Nov. 6.
“We are aware of Ms. Moore’s decision to plead guilty. Clearly, this changes Mr. Flores’ legal situation in the case, and we are currently reviewing our options,” said Flores’ attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez.
Messages left with Moore’s attorney were not immediately returned. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California declined to comment.
The tragic end to Sawusch’s life began on June 23, 2017, when the brilliant but troubled ophthalmologist met Flores and Moore during a chance meeting at a vegan ice cream parlor in Venice Beach, California.
Flores, who went by the name Anton David, was a guru-like figure with long, wavy hair and a beard. He worked as a hairstylist on film shoots. Moore, an elfin blonde, was an actress and singer. The couple had met years earlier at a vegan potluck dinner and fell in love over what they described as a shared hippie spirit. Together they ran a yoga center in Fresno, California, while traveling back and forth to LA
Their spiritual atmosphere captivated Sawusch, who had been released just days earlier from a mental health facility where he had been admitted after suffering a breakdown, according to court records. Within a week, Flores and Moore had moved into Sawusch’s multimillion-dollar beachfront home in Malibu, California, federal prosecutors said.
The following year, the pair took increasing control of the doctor’s life and finances, with Flores granting power of attorney over Sawusch’s vast fortune while feeding him a steady diet of marijuana and LSD, while also giving him experimental ketamine treatments underwent treatment for his bipolar disorder. that left him spoiled, investigators said.
According to a coroner’s report, Sawusch later died in May 2018 from a fatal mixture of ketamine and alcohol. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death an accident.
In her guilty plea, Moore said she was not immediately aware of the extent of Flores’ alleged attempts to steal the doctor’s money, but admitted that after Sawusch’s death she participated in a later attempt in court to keep the stolen money. Prosecutors have alleged that this was a separate fraud.
When Sawusch’s family tried to take control of his estate, they discovered that nearly $3 million had been transferred from his accounts to accounts controlled by Flores in the days before and after the doctor’s death, according to federal prosecutors.
Sawusch’s family filed a civil lawsuit against the yogi couple, convincing a California state judge to issue a restraining order freezing Flores and Moores’ accounts and ordering them to pay back the money. Instead, federal prosecutors say, the two committed a second fraud by submitting false claims to the court that Sawusch had verbally told them he would give them a third of his fortune plus his Malibu beach house.
The couple claimed the doctor gave them the money in exchange for caring for him and as part of an effort to protect his fortune from his estranged family. The family said these claims were untrue and that the couple had kept Sawusch isolated from his friends and family.
The couple ultimately returned about $2 million of the doctor’s money, but federal prosecutors say about $1 million remained missing.
Flores and Moore split during the pandemic after nearly a decade together. Moore moved to Mexico while Flores remained in Fresno, where he was arrested in late January. Moore was arrested at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport around the same time as she returned to the US. Both have been held without bail since then.