(AP) Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Louis A. Gottschalk lost up to $3 million over a 10-year period to a Nigerian Internet scam, his son alleges in a lawsuit.
The 89-year-old Gottschalk, a neuroscientist who still works at the University of California, Irvine medical plaza that bears his name, acknowledged losing $900,000 to “some bad investments,” according to court papers.
Gottschalk is the founding chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UCI College of Medicine. He gained national prominence in 1987 by claiming that his studies of President Reagan’s speech patterns showed that Reagan had been suffering from diminished mental ability as early as 1980.
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The psychiatrist’s son, Guy Gottschalk, filed a lawsuit last month in Orange County Superior Court asking a judge to remove his father as administrator of the family’s $8-million partnership. He filed the suit to prevent his father from being further victimized, the younger Gottschalk, who is also an Orange County doctor, claims in court papers.
He alleges that his father traveled to Africa to meet a shadowy figure known as “The General” and destroyed bank records to cover up his losses.
“While it seems unlikely, even ludicrous, that a highly educated doctor like (Gottschalk) would fall prey to such an obvious con, that is exactly what happened,” the son’s attorney wrote in court papers.
Louis Gottschalk and his attorney accuse Guy Gottschalk in court documents of carrying out an unspecified “vendetta” against his father. The son lost a bid last October to have a conservator oversee the family partnership after a court-appointed investigator determined his father was mentally competent, legal documents show.
Under the Nigerian “419” scam ï¿½ named after the country’s legal code for fraud ï¿½ criminals send junk e-mail to thousands of unsuspecting people offering them a share in a large fortune if they can only provide a smaller amount of money up front. The criminal takes the money and then disappears.
A hearing in Guy Gottschalk’s lawsuit is set for March 14.