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Man in $5.5 million gold scheme facing 130 years in prison

30 Apr

Article Tab: John Arthur WalthallSANTA ANA – A fugitive who was arrested with a book entitled “How to Be Invisible” and later convicted of defrauding an elderly Laguna Niguel couple of $5.5 million in a gold mining scheme is expected to be sentenced in federal court here Monday afternoon.

An Orange County jury late last year found John Arthur Walthall, 56, of La Habra, guilty of four counts of wire fraud and one count of failure to appear, the FBI said.

Evidence presented at trial showed Walthall purportedly created a partnership to fund the extraction of gold from abandoned mines, telling the couple in their 80s he had conducted research on the gold mining process for 20 years, according to an FBI news release.

Prosecutors argued Walthall transferred the partnership funds to 27 separate bank accounts through which he spent the money, without the couple’s knowledge or approval, on personal items, including paying off vehicles, part of a $250,000 loan he received from a former fiancée, buying a hyperbaric oxygen chamber estimated to be worth $60,000, and paying for his child’s rent payments and $10,000 tuition for a film school, the FBI said.

Walthall remained a fugitive for a short time and was arrested on July 26, 2011, in Mesquite, Nev., under a false name, evidence introduced during the trial revealed. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of 130 years in federal prison, the FBI said.

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