A Lake Forest man has been found guilty in one of several cases after prosecutors accused him of being a “con artist” and defrauding multiple victims out of more than $500,000.
Ricky A. Dugo, 55, of Lake Forest, was charged in March 2021 with four counts of felony theft and two counts of felony conspiracy to commit a financial crime.
A Lake County grand jury later indicted Dugo on additional charges that included theft, three counts of money laundering and two counts of deceptive practices.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Berrill said in May 2021 that Dugo convinced his victims to give him money for investments that did not actually exist.
Berrill said Dugo would return to the victims for additional money, stringing them along after the initial investments were given to him.
“Each of the victims in this case fell prey to a long con. These scams had significant negative impacts on their lives,” Berrill said. “Our goal in this case is to seek justice for victims who were truly hurt by these schemes.”
A criminal complaint filed in Lake County Circuit Court alleged that Dugo obtained or exerted unauthorized control over property from a man, which exceeded $500,000 but was under $1 million.
The incident occurred between January 2013 and July 2015 and involved Dugo convincing the victim to pay “advance fees as purported investments that were not actually legitimate,” according to the complaint.
A second victim also reported that Dugo convinced them to pay “advance fees as purported investments that were not actually legitimate.”
That victim lost between $10,000 and $100,000 in cash in March 2018, the complaint said.
Dugo allegedly committed loan fraud with a third victim by instructing the woman to include false income on a loan application in July 2017.
The loan application was to finance the purchase of a 2015 Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a 2017 Harley-Davison motorcycle, which were valued between $10,000 and $100,000.
The newer charges against Dugo alleged he “knowingly obtained by deception” control over cash, vehicles, Rolex watches and furniture, which collectively amounted to between $100,000 and $500,000.
The vehicles included five different motorcycles, which were purchased by the victim in March 2020 under the “false premise” that Dugo would pay the victim back, the indictment said.
Dugo also “deceptively caused” the man to write a check to one of Dugo’s family members in an amount less than $10,000, the indictment said.
The charges were brought against Dugo following an investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.
A blog post dated May 24, 2018, on a site called “The Dirty” said that Dugo stole $10,000 from the blog post author and over $800,000 from many others around the Chicago area and the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
The blog post explained that Dugo proposed a deal to the victim where any money they put into a television buying scheme would double their money.
The victim said they gave Dugo $10,000, which was all the money they had saved up, and Dugo did not return their money.
The charges against Dugo were split into multiple separate cases.
A bench trial concluded Friday in one of the cases and Lake County Judge Christopher Lombardo found Dugo guilty of one count of theft by deception, a Class 2 felony, for stealing $18,700. He was found not guilty of theft by control.
The trial lasted three days. Dugo did not testify and his attorney did not call any witnesses to testify.
Prosecutors called five witnesses to testify and victims of Dugo also testified.
Prosecutors argued Dugo choreographed a well-thought-out scheme to take others’ money over the years and never planned on paying it back.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said after the verdict that “this is a good day” for the victims of Dugo’s “long-running scams.
“Our Special Investigations Division did an excellent job supporting our prosecutors – together, they are starting the process of securing justice for these good people who lost money to this scammer and con artist,” Rinehart said.
Dugo’s bond was revoked and he was taken into the custody of the Lake County Jail.
Dugo faces a sentencing range of three to seven years in prison. It is also possible he could receive probation.
A pre-sentence investigation will be conducted and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 17.
Several other cases are still pending in Lake County court against Dugo.