Breckenridge doesn’t often figure in crime stories that make national headlines. An exception occurred on December 9 when former Breck attorney Royal “Scoop” Daniel was arrested as he attempted to enter the U.S. from Tijuana on foot. Daniel was wanted in the U.S. for allegedly absconding with more than $700,000 of his clients’ money in fraudulent 1031 exchange schemes.
A respected local citizen with an impeccable reputation, Daniel volunteered his time to read to prisoners, help immigrants obtain green cards, sing in the church choir and act as a substitute minister. When he disappeared on April 27, 2007, a call was placed from his cell phone to the local 911 dispatch, although no one ever spoke on the line. When police searched Daniel’s home they found an empty cereal bowl and broken sunglasses. Fearing foul play, townspeople turned out in droves to search for him. However, the fear soon turned to anger as clients, immigrants and co-workers realized that thousands of their dollars were missing. He even left his paralegal, Annie Halpin, $10,000 short in salary payments.
After being apprehended by the border patrol last week, Daniel admitted that he had been living in Acapulco for the past four years doing translation and website work. He told police that he did not know he was wanted in the U.S. for any criminal activity.
Daniel faces charges of theft, a Class 3 felony, and commercial bribery, a Class 6 felony—charges which could carry a sentence of up to eight years in prison. There is a possibility that additional charges will be filed as more victims come forth. “I’m glad there’s some closure on this,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said about Daniel’s arrest. “I think people feel like we’ve come full circle and we’ll know more about what he was thinking.”
Daniel was disbarred in 2008.