A 72-year-old Beverly Hills lawyer who created a
wild scam involving German royalty and a nonexistent $100 million
trust was summarily disbarred July 21, 2001, following a felony grand
theft conviction. In July 1995, a jury found DANIEL N. BUSBY
[#28022] guilty of scamming a woman he offered to help recoup a
large amount of money she lost in the stock market.
In 1988, Busby told her he was the trustee of the
Augsburg Settlement of 1773, a $100 million trust connected to the
Habsburg royal family of West Germany. He assured the woman her
investment was safe because it was backed by royalty.
Busby and the woman became romantically involved,
and she gave him a total of $168,000 to invest in the Augsburg
Settlement. She was told she would receive 20 percent interest when
the investment matured in one year.
She did not receive any payment, and was told
there had been a delay in funding. Busby said he would pay the
principal and interest in April 1989, but when the time came, the
woman was unable to find Busby - he had moved out of his home and
disconnected the phone. He later contacted her, saying there were
additional delays and she would be repaid in August.
In October, the woman received a letter from
Michael Maximilian Habsburg Papirnik - a descendant of the royal
family - acknowledging
the terms of her investment. A second letter the following month
assured her everything was fine.
Dr. Otto Van Habsburg, head of the West German
family, later told the woman, "As far as I'm informed, the whole
trust never existed," and said the person calling himself Papirnik
had no right to the family name.
At trial, Papirnik was proven a fabrication, a
combination of historical figures. The district attorney's office
also confirmed the Habsburgs no longer had a trust; all of their
property had been seized in 1918.
Busby spent $140,000 of the woman's
"investment." At trial, he claimed he had met Papirnik around 1984
and was named trustee of the Augsburg Settlement. He testified he
handled the trust's transactions in the United States and spoke with
Papirnik "almost daily." He said the woman lost the money in a
risky but legitimate investment to buy and sell gold bullion, and that
he made no misrepresentations to her. He said he felt no guilt about
the woman's loss because she knew the risks, had an attorney and had
solicited him to make the invest-ment.
After his conviction, Busby was incarcerated at a
minimum security facility at Folsom Prison for six months, where he
did general office work. He
was transferred to Chino and released in September 1997, completing
one year of parole.
Aggravating factors included bad faith and
dishonesty, lack of remorse, and failure to make restitution.
In mitigation, Busby practiced for nearly 38
years with no discipline, had positive character witnesses and served
prison time for his crime.
Busby worked a short stint at the Los Angeles
County district attorney's office in the late 1950s. He handled
criminal and business law and ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the
bench in Beverly Hills.
Around 1970, saying he was disenchanted with how
the criminal justice system took advantage of defendants, Busby moved
to Mexico City, where he designed clothing and sold backgammon sets.
He returned to California in 1973, where he resumed his law practice,
then quit again and bought five Wendy's restaurants. In recent
years, he has handled two friends' financial affairs and designed
expensive evening bags for women.