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Newport Beach financier Danny Pang dies at 42

September 12, 2009 |  2:39 pm

Danny Pang

Newport Beach financier Danny Pang died early Saturday at a local hospital, according to the Orange County coroner’s office. The cause of death has not been determined and an autopsy is planned for Sunday, said Larry Esslinger, supervising deputy coroner.

Police officers were dispatched to Pang’s home in the 2600 block of Crestview Drive about 3:30 p.m. Friday on a “medical assistance call,” said Sgt. Doug Jones of the Newport Beach Police Department. 

Pang was pronounced dead at Hoag Memorial Hospital at 5:12 a.m. Saturday, Esslinger said.  He had no further details.

The 42-year-old Pang has been accused by the government of operating a Ponzi scheme and of taking at least $83 million in inflated fees, salary and loans from his investment firm before it was seized by federal regulators in April. He had denied wrongdoing.

[Updated, 3:40 p.m.: Esslinger said no further investigation is planned.

In a statement, Charles Sipkins, a spokesman for Pang, said, “Our entire family is shocked by Danny’s sudden and tragic passing. Danny was a wonderful husband, loving father, and an honest businessman.

“For the past five months, Danny was subjected to a relentless attack of innuendo and false allegations,” he added, “and was denied the opportunity to defend himself.”

Pang’s notoriety in the financial world began its steep descent earlier this year.

A federal criminal indictment in July accused Pang of structuring hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash transactions in 2007 to avoid scrutiny from the government. He had pleaded not guilty. Those charges were similar to allegations that federal prosecutors filed against Pang in April.

The indictment came as Pang faced a civil lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing him of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors -- primarily Taiwanese banks -- through his Irvine-based Private Equity Management Group.

Pang first made headlines in 1997 when his 33-year-old wife, a former stripper named Janie, was shot to death in the couple’s Villa Park home.

Pang denied involvement in his wife’s murder and was never charged. Pang’s attorney, Hugh “Randy” McDonald, was charged in the slaying.

Orange County prosecutors accused McDonald of killing Janie Pang, staging a fake suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge and then going into hiding. A jury was unable to reach a verdict, and prosecutors elected not to pursue a second trial.

Sipkins, in commenting on Pang’s protracted legal problems said: “It is distressing that Danny had to endure such a mean-spirited assault on his character and reputation, and the seizure of all this property without ever having been found liable of anything and without ever having a chance to defend himself." ]

-- Ruben Vives and Louis Sahagun

Photo: Associated Press