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Chicago Title/Gina Champion-Cain Liquor License Investment Fraud

COURT: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

On November 5, 2019, Berger Montague filed a class action lawsuit against Chicago Title Company and Gina Champion-Cain on behalf of investors who were defrauded in a $400 million Ponzi scheme. The case is Allred, et al. v. Chicago Title Company, et al. A copy of the complaint is available here.

Defrauded investors interested in participating in the lawsuit are urged to contact the head of Berger Montague’s San Diego office, Benjamin Galdston, at 619-678-0187 or Interested investors can also contact Berger Montague attorneys Michael Dell’Angelo and Barbara Podell at 215-875-3080 or 215-875-4690, or via email at or

Case Allegations

For at least seven years, investors believed they were funding high-interest short-term loans to California liquor license applicants, which were supposedly held in secure escrow accounts managed by Chicago Title.

In reality, not a single dollar was used to invest in any liquor license applications. Instead, Champion-Cain used investors’ funds to prop up her numerous businesses, including restaurants, coffee shops, retail establishments, properties and “lifestyle” brands.

The scheme succeeded with the knowledge and assistance of Chicago Title and its two senior escrow officers, Della DuCharme and Betty Elixman. For their complicity, DuCharme and Elixman were rewarded with cash bribes, first class airfare, free meals and alcohol at Champion-Cain’s restaurants, baseball tickets, and lavish social events hosted by Champion-Cain.

Case Background

Champion-Cain began marketing investments through a California liquor license “lending platform” that would purportedly be used to make high-interest short-term loans to liquor license applicants. Investors were told that their funds would be held in secure escrow accounts with Chicago Title. Once the application was complete, investors would receive returns as high as 18 percent. If an application was denied, investors would receive their money back.

Investors were told that their only supposed risk was the “opportunity cost” of a denied application, because Chicago Title was a trusted, household name that claimed to provide strict safeguards and controls over their escrow accounts. Champion-Cain touted Chicago Title as a “very large, well-known,” escrow provider, stressing that investors’ money would never leave the Chicago Title escrow without investors’ permission.

In reality and unknown to investors, Champion-Cain used the Chicago Title escrow and investors’ funds as her own personal piggy bank. She diverted investors’ money to her company American National Investments to fund her other businesses.

If you were defrauded by Champion-Cain and Chicago Title and would like to learn more about the lawsuit, please fill out the contact form on this page.

Do I Have to Pay Any Fees to the Attorneys?

Berger Montague is handling this case on a contingent fee basis. This means we will only be paid if the lawsuit successfully obtains relief—either through a settlement or final judgment—and that payment will come from the settlement or final judgment. Therefore, you do not have to pay anything in order to join the lawsuit.

Lead Attorneys

Benjamin Galdston Headshot

Benjamin Galdston

Michael Dell'Angelo Headshot

Michael C. Dell'Angelo

Managing Shareholder
Barbara Podell Headshot

Barbara A. Podell


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