Tony Daniloo's fraud victims soon will gather in a marble-floored federal courtroom 19 stories above the streets of San Francisco to tell a judge how the Modesto mortgage broker ruined their lives.
Anita Lund Vitti, 46, of Patterson doesn't know if she'll be allowed to speak Wednesday. But she is confident that no one, among dozens of people with a perfect right to berate Daniloo, lost more than she did.
"My sister committed suicide because of what he did," Vitti said in a recent interview, her voice choked with emotion. "My twin sister. He is a despicable human being, and I literally want to kill the man."
Tough words from a doting wife, mother and longtime Girl Scout leader, still grieving two years after Theresa Lund lost the family fortune of nearly $1 million and put a handgun to her head.
"She was my best friend," Vitti said. "She was everything to me."
"I miss you so much it hurts. I always thought you were my courage in life, but now I have to do it without you. You are my heart and soul."
— Vitti's InsideBayArea.com online guest book entry on Aug. 26, 2004, two months after Lund's death
In December, Daniloo admitted scamming as much as $7 million from lenders and his clients, more than $4.5 million of which came from schemes at DreamLife Financial in and around Modesto in 2004. The expected sentence is about 10 years in federal prison.
Although he allegedly rooked his own parents and neighbors, Daniloo's victims were mostly minorities, people with poor credit and the elderly. As they fought to keep from going under, Daniloo was buying expensive cars and fancy jewelry.
Daniloo, 32, made headlines in 2004 with pledges of $4.5 million to Turlock's Emanuel Medical Center and $1 million to California State University, Stanislaus. DreamLife was a finalist for naming rights of the San Francisco 49ers football stadium.
The house of cards came tumbling down with his December 2004 arrest for cheating Bay Area clients when he worked there before moving to Turlock. Investigators with the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service and Alameda County ultimately spent four years scrutinizing Daniloo's deals.
He pleaded guilty to the East Bay crimes in May, agreeing to repay victims $1.34 million and spend six years and eight months in state prison. That term would run concurrently with a future sentence from the larger-looming federal investigation focusing on the Modesto area.
The latter case prompted Daniloo's guilty plea in December to 122 felony counts, setting up Wednesday's sentencing in federal court.
"Any of the victims has the right to speak at the sentencing hearing," said Luke McCaulay, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice. "All they have to do is show up."
Vitti said she hopes to unburden herself. But her grief stems from Daniloo's tricks in the East Bay, before an investigation there prompted his flight to the valley, and business rebirth, in 2003.
The Lund story began decades before in Hayward, where devoted parents raised the Lund girls and their three older brothers. They remained close as adults, often gathering on holidays and Sunday afternoons to watch NASCAR races.
Vitti married and moved to Patterson 20 years ago, and her sister remained single. The twins' bond caused Lund to suffer Vitti's symptoms when she became pregnant, such as shortness of breath and weight gain, Vitti said.
In 1999, their widowed father was killed in an auto accident. His will put Lund in charge of the family trust, which included one property each in Hayward and Oakland, and other assets, according to court documents.
A lifetime family friend introduced her sister to Daniloo and he quickly gained her trust, Vitti said. "Tony started telling her he could do things for the family," Vitti said. "My sister did whatever he said."
She transferred ownership of the properties from the trust to herself and used the land to secure $770,000 in six loans, according to court documents. She used part of that to buy the Hayward home at which she later shot herself.
Daniloo kept all relevant paperwork, and Lund wasn't savvy enough to keep up, Vitti said.
The elderly family friend, Ernestine Malone, lost five rental homes to foreclosure because of Daniloo's scheme, authorities said. He called her "Mother," yet stole more than $1 million from her over a four-year period, court documents show.
Vitti became a victim, too. Daniloo arranged to refinance her house, then told her to ignore payment demands, saying the money owed would be rolled into a new subprime loan, she said. Creditors repossessed her car, and she nearly lost the home, Vitti said.
Worse, the Lund family trust soon evaporated.
The three brothers were enraged, blamed Lund and sued to have her removed as trustee. A judge quickly complied, appointed a third-party trustee and ordered Lund to account for money from Daniloo's loans.
She never did.
"My sister said she never saw any of the money whatsoever," Vitti said. "He kept evading us. He said he was going to help us, and we didn't get anything."
Investigators determined that Daniloo routinely intercepted money from new lenders meant to pay off others, and put the money in his personal account or that of his wife or other family members. He continued the scheme in Modesto, he admitted, when he pleaded guilty four months ago.
"Many of your clients had poor credit histories and difficulty qualifying for loans. You qualified the clients for loans by tampering with financial records. You inserted phony loan documents in files, forged bank records to show inflated assets and forged letters from certified public accountants. You made up and executed a scheme by using false statements to divert money meant to pay off old mortgages and instead you deposited the money in accounts you controlled."
— U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, Dec. 5
"Yes, your honor."
In Alameda County, the Lunds' court-appointed trustee sued Daniloo's former employer and Theresa Lund, saying both were responsible for draining the trust.
The trustee found evidence that $50,000 from one of the loans went directly to Daniloo's wife, Nansi Masihi Daniloo, court documents show. A check was written to N. Masihi Co., a company that never existed, the trustee wrote.
Messages to Nansi Daniloo for this report went unanswered.
Although Tony Daniloo never practiced law, the trustee discovered a $9,500 Lund check to Daniloo "for estate and trust litigation" and another worth $3,200 for "partial retainer and legal representation."
"Mr. Daniloo's performance is at the core" of the Lund case, the trustee's attorney wrote in a letter to attorneys representing Daniloo's former Dublin employer, Residential Credit Corp. It eventually went out of business.
Vitti said her sister was not a crook, but an unwitting victim. The court-appointed trustee, Charles Triay, tends to agree, partly because his probe failed to turn up a substantial portion of the money missing from the Lund trust.
"My suspicion is, it was 99 percent Daniloo," Triay said Thursday. "I doubt whether Theresa Lund had the sophistication to hide all kinds of money. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she was a victim rather than a co-conspirator."
The Bee was unable to reach the Lund brothers for comment.
During Triay's probe, a judge ordered both Daniloos to provide information at depositions. They obtained several postponements before their attorney quit, saying they missed appointments and would not cooperate. The Daniloos never testified, according to court documents.
Nansi Daniloo had been arrested with her husband but worked a deal with state prosecutors, agreeing to repay victims $368,000 in exchange for escaping four felony counts. She never faced federal charges.
Theresa Lund, whether from guilt or despair, did not cooperate with Triay despite many judge's orders.
Triay complained that Lund several times avoided subpoenas. When servers finally cornered her, Lund simply failed to show up for depositions. The only time Lund did appear, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
"I am not in sound mind to answer the questions, because I have a lot of tension and stress on me," she wrote in a letter to a judge and attorneys just before another missed deposition.
"Theresa Ann Lund is guilty of contempt of court for her disobedience of court order to appear."
— Alameda County Superior Court ruling, May 3, 2002
Lund likewise was nowhere to be found at the May 2004 trial scheduled to resolve trust disputes. A judge found her and Daniloo's former employer liable and ordered them to repay $957,128.
If the company couldn't come up with its $626,000 share, Lund — a 16-year Home Depot employee — would have to repay the whole amount, the judge said.
Five weeks later, Lund committed suicide.
Describe how injury occurred: Shot self with handgun.
Time interval between onset and death: Minutes.
— Lund's Alameda County death certificate
Vitti, 67 miles away, said she gagged about the time her sister must have pulled the trigger. "I couldn't breathe when my sister was drowning in her own blood," Vitti said.
Her obituary appeared on the sisters' 45th birthday, in June 2004.
Vitti keeps her sister's cremated remains in a china hutch that belonged to Lund. Nearly three years after her death, Vitti can't bring herself to delete her sister's numbers from her telephone.
She chats daily with photos of Lund, on Vitti's desk at Patterson Frozen Foods and in every room of her home. A picture frame with an image of both women reads, "Having a sister is having a best friend."
"It is hard not having you here to celebrate our birthday together. I think of you every day and I talk to your picture. You are my everything and will always be in my heart."
— Vitti's guest book entry, June 27, 2005
Girl Scouts and leaders adopted code names at summer camps attended by the sisters and Vitti's troop for more than a decade before Lund's death. Vitti and Lund, who spent much time cooking in the camp kitchen, were Sugar and Spice, respectively. Vitti's Scouts since have renamed a stuffed moose mascot Spice to keep her sister's memory alive.
"Every day is a struggle without her," Vitti said. "We did a lot of laughing and hugging and holding, and now I don't have her to laugh and hug and hold."
Authorities haven't guaranteed that Vitti can describe her loss at Daniloo's sentencing Wednesday. That hearing is meant for his victims in the Modesto area, as opposed to those he preyed on in the Bay Area, such as Lund and Vitti.
If allowed, Vitti said, she will argue for a term longer than 10 years.
"If he's not in there the rest of his life, he's only going to victimize people again," Vitti said. She noted that Daniloo's own parents, and perhaps his wife's parents, did not escape his greed, according to lawsuits and an inspector's report.
The documents suggest Daniloo stole identities of family members and that of an Alzheimer's patient, and left them holding the bag.
"He doesn't care who he hurts as long as he gets the money," Vitti said. "He preys on people who are old, who are senile, people who are grieving, people in charge of wills who don't know what they're doing. He preys on people who are weak.
"He literally tore my family apart. I'm barely on speaking terms with our brothers. And there is nothing we can do to recover our loss.
"And I have the greatest loss because part of me died with her. I lost half of me."
Tony Daniloo is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Courtroom 9 of U.S. District Court, Northern District, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.