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Paradise lost: Yoga guru charged with stealing millions from Malibu doctor plans to plead guilty

By Lukas I. Alpert

Prosecutors are working out a deal with Anthony Flores, who is accused of giving Mark Sawusch drugs and stealing from him before Sawusch's 2018 death, court docs show

The case of a yoga guru couple accused of plying an extraordinarily wealthy but mentally-ill Malibu doctor with drugs and then stealing his money, is heading to a close with the remaining defendant telling prosecutors he intends to plead guilty, court documents show.

Anthony Flores's intention to change his plea was described in a court document filed by prosecutors on Monday, just weeks after Flores's co-defendant and ex-girlfriend, Anna Moore, reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. Flores's lawyer said that Moore's plea deal limited his client's legal options.

The pair had been accused of worming their way into the life of Dr. Mark Sawusch, a brilliant-but-troubled ophthalmologist, and eventually taking control of his bank accounts, from which they allegedly took some $3 million around the time that he died in 2018.

Prosecutors had said Flores and Moore had moved into Sawusch's Malibu beach house during the last 11 months of his life, during which time they fed him a steady dose of marijuana, LSD and ketamine while gaining a firmer grasp on his fortune which was worth around $60 million.

Sawusch later died in May 2018 of a lethal mixture of ketamine and alcohol, according to a coroner's report. The Los Angeles County medical examiner's office ruled the death an accident.

In court documents filed on Monday, prosecutors told the federal judge presiding over the case that Flores's attorney had informed them last week that his client intended to plead guilty.

"The government is currently preparing a plea agreement for defendant Flores's and his counsel's review," the filing read. No timetable was set for when a plea agreement might be filed and it remains possible that a deal might not be reached.

Flores's attorney and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles declined to comment.

The tragic end to Sawusch's life began on June 23, 2017, when he met Flores and Moore in a chance encounter at a vegan ice cream parlor in Venice Beach, Calif.

Flores, a hair stylist on films shoots who went by Anton David, was a guru-like figure sporting flowing, dark hair and a beard. Moore, a pixie-esque blond, was an actress and singer. The couple ran a yoga center in Fresno, Calif., while going back-and-forth to L.A. to pursue their careers in Hollywood.

Their spiritual vibe cast a spell on Sawusch, who had just days earlier been released from a mental health facility after suffering a breakdown, according to court filings. Within a week, Flores and Moore had moved into Sawusch's multi-million dollar beachfront home in Malibu, Calif. to become his caretakers, federal prosecutors said.

In her guilty plea, Moore said she was not immediately aware of the scope of Flores' alleged efforts to steal the doctor's money, but admitted that she participated in a later effort following the doctor's death to keep the stolen money. The couple claimed that Sawusch had promised them a third of his fortune plus his Malibu beach house.

When Sawusch's family sought to take control of his estate, they discovered that almost $3 million had been transferred to accounts controlled by Flores in the days before and after the doctor's death, federal prosecutors said.

The couple claimed that the doctor gave them the money in return for them taking care of him and as part of an effort to protect his fortune from his family, from whom he was estranged, according to court documents filed by the couple. Sawusch's family responded in court filings that those claims were untrue and that the pair had kept Sawusch isolated during the last year of his life.

Flores and Moore broke up 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 George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston upon her return to the U.S. around the same time. Both have been held without bail since.

-Lukas I. Alpert

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


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09-19-23 1650ET

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