Santa Monica News
Suspected Murderer To Stand Trial
By Michael Lambrose
Oct 11, 2012 - 3:25:37 PM

SANTA MONICA—After Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office’s six day preliminary hearing, Daniel Becerril was bound over to stand trial before the Superior Court for the alleged 2008 murder of Santa Monica Resident Alexander Merman. 

Merman, who went by Sasha, was a 35-year-old Russian born LAUSD elementary school teacher and artist.  Merman was found stabbed to death in his condominium at 520 Montana Avenue on March 18, 2008.
Alexander "Sasha" Merman

During the subsequent four year investigation into the murder, authorities discovered that Becerril was the owner of AP Financial Group located in Huntington Beach.  Becerril allegedly used the company to defraud a number of victims, including Merman, through real-estate and investment scams.  For these reported crimes, Becerril faces 29 charges of grand theft, fraud and money laundering. 

Merman, who was one of the primary targets of these scams according Santa Monica Police Department and Los Angeles County District Attorney press releases, reportedly gave Becerril a $250,000 loan prior to his murder.  In addition to the loan, prosecutors suspect Becerril of laundering $300,000 out of Merman’s investment accounts into accounts held by Becerril and AP financial.  Sandra Soria, a second alleged victim of Becerril, was also defrauded out of a number of assets including her West Covina home.

Sandra Becerril
Sandra Becerril, Daniel Becerril’s wife, was also arrested during the coordinated effort between Santa Monica Police Department, Huntington Beach Police Department and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that led to her husband’s arrest on March 1, 2012.  Deputy District Attorneys Hilda Weintraub and Rob Knowles of the Real Estate Fraud Section alleged that she was an accomplice in her husband’s fraudulent crimes and have filed charges of grand theft, money laundering and forgery against her.

Daniel Becerril remains in the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department with bail set at 2.4 million dollars.  His arraignment in Superior Court will take place on October 23, 2012 at Department 115 of the Criminal Courts Building.

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