Real estate fraud leads to murder in South LA, prosecutors say

Man on trial allegedly warned: “You know what could happen if he talks”

Real Estate Fraud Leads to Murder in LA, Prosecutors Say

(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

“You know what could happen if he talks.”

That was the alleged warning made by David Nelson, on trial this week for a murder-for-hire plot linked to a $375,000 real estate fraud, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Nelson, 50, of Fontana, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and conspiracy in the 2013 shooting death of Rigoberto Dupre, in South Los Angeles.

The 54-year-old Dupre was shot in the back by an unknown assailant one evening at his auto repair shop. A bullet to the chest and two more in the head made sure he was dead.

Dupre’s business dealings set him on a “collision course” with Nelson, accused of orchestrating his death, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson said at the trial.

Hoping to make a few bucks to pour into his home auto shop on Florence Avenue, Dupre got involved in a fraudulent real estate deal with Nelson, Thompson told the jury in his closing argument.

Nelson drove a Rolls Royce. Dupre was an “unsophisticated” man who worked on cars six days a week, the prosecutor said.

Nelson was trying to steal equity from an Inglewood apartment complex, according to Thompson. While posing as the landlord, Dupre secured a loan against the building’s value for $375,000, which was then converted into gold coins. 

Nelson’s attorney, Jovan Blacknell, said there was no evidence that Nelson received any of the gold.

Two years after the loan was made, investigators for the financing company confronted Dupre, who “laid it all out,” Thompson said. Dupre then picked out Nelson among a lineup of potential suspects as the man who put him up to the fraud, records show.

The prosecutor said this sealed Dupre’s fate.

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Dupre’s son would later tell detectives that Nelson showed up at his father’s business and warned the son: “You know what could happen if he talks.”

Nelson offered an associate, Tina Alexander, $5,000 to orchestrate Dupre’s murder. Alexander, 62, pleaded guilty to murder and testified against Nelson in exchange for a sentence of 15 years to life, according to prosecutors.

After a botched murder attempt by her husband (who led police on a 10-mile chase before he was arrested in connection with check-cashing robberies), Alexander asked her brother-in-law to rent another car. 

She parked it on 69th Street, a few blocks from Dupre’s shop, and left the keys inside,Thompson said. A gunman then walked into the shop and killed Dupre, then escaped in the getaway car.

“Wallet was there, money was there,” Dupre’s son told ABC7 at the time, discounting robbery as a motive. “He didn’t pat him down, nothing. He just shot him and left.”

Blacknell asked the jury to consider the lack of evidence.

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The spoils of the fraud that set the alleged conspiracy in motion — $375,000 in gold coins — were never recovered.

In all of Nelson’s phone, internet and bank records, police and prosecutors didn’t find a record of Nelson soliciting someone to murder Dupre after Alexander’s husband was arrested. The shooter has never been identified, despite a $50,000 reward offered by the Los Angeles City Council. 

“When does [Nelson] hire and recruit and pay this unknown killer?” Blacknell asked the jury. Deliberation by the jurors began on Wednesday.

— Dana Bartholomew