In January 2000, according to court documents, Drakulic told Underwood to meet him in Washington, D.C. He was finally going to sign off on the government project and make arrangements to pay her back.
Underwood drove from South Carolina to Washington. She waited for Drakulic for 10 days. He never showed up. Alarmed, Underwood called a man she had met briefly through Drakulic.
According to court testimony, the man told her that Drakulic hadn’t worked at Andrews Air Force Base in 10 years. He no longer worked at UCLA. Drakulic owned a company on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles that developed heart monitors.
Desperate to know the truth, Underwood flew to Los Angeles, without telling her boyfriend, on June 12, 2000. After her arrival, she called Drakulic. He told her he was at Edwards Air Force Base.
Not believing him, Underwood drove to the UCLA tennis courts. Sure enough, Drakulic was there, getting a tennis lesson.
With her heart sinking, Underwood realized everything her boyfriend had told her was a lie.
She filed a lawsuit against Drakulic on August 13, 2001, claiming that he owed her $364,000, plus interest.
The trial was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2001. That same morning, at 9 a.m., Drakulic filed bankruptcy, which stopped the trial.
Debts due to fraud, however, cannot be eliminated through bankruptcy. So Underwood’s attorneys fought in court to prove that when Drakulic took money from Underwood, he committed fraud.
The court found that Drakulic lied to Underwood about his affection for her and their future together. He lied about the secret government contract. He lied about why he hadn’t been paid by the government, and why he needed more money.
The court ruled that Drakulic owed Underwood $600,404 in principle and interest.
Plus, calling Drakulic’s conduct ‘willful,’ ‘malicious’ and ‘despicable,’ the court awarded Underwood an additional $200,000 for emotional distress and damages.
A judgment against Budimir S. Drakulic for $805,869 was filed on June 14, 2002. Underwood had proven her case. She won, and believed that she was finally going to get the money she was owed.
That didn’t happen. Her attorneys couldn’t find any significant money in Drakulic’s name.
By 2003, although Underwood had no money left, she was still determined to pursue Drakulic. She earned money however she could including waitressing and cleaning houses to pay her attorneys. But she couldn’t afford a private investigator to find Drakulic’s assets. So she started investigating him herself.
In listing his assets for his bankruptcy, Drakulic included patent number 5,678,559. His invention was biomedical amplification technology that could distinguish brain and heart signals from background noise.
Underwood realized her money funded the patent. ‘He hit me in January 1995 for $35,000,’ Underwood said. ‘He filed for the patent the day after he got my money.’
Underwood searched the Internet for records about the patent, Drakulic and every person associated with her ex-boyfriend, including his attorneys, business partners and other women. She fed the information to her attorney, Daniel J. McCarthy of the firm Hill, Farrer and Burrill in Los Angeles.
According to a declaration McCarthy prepared for the court, Budimir Drakulic created two companies, called B. World and B. Technologies, in June and July of 2002. The registered agent for these entities was a lawyer named Mitchell Stein.
Then a publicly traded company called Recom Managed Systems announced that Drakulic had assigned ownership of his patent and technologies to Recom and would work for the company.
‘It appears that B. World and B. Technologies were qualified to do business in California at about the same time that Ms. Underwood obtained a judgment against Drakulic so that Drakulic could be paid through those entities (of which he is shown to be the president) rather than being paid directly by Recom,’McCarthy stated.
This meant that the money Drakulic received from Recom was not in his name. Underwood and her attorneys dragged Drakulic into court again in 2004. In his deposition, Drakulic denied knowing anything about B. World and B. Technologies.
He claimed that his daughter, Ivena Drakulic, paid all his bills, but he didn’t know where she got the money to pay them. He also said he didn’t know where his daughter lived, whether she was married, or if she had any children.
Underwood won a court order to garnish Drakulic’s bank accounts. But the sheriff only found $570 in the name of Irena Drakulic.