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O.C. man sentenced for conning elderly couple out of millions

April 30, 2012 |  9:33 pm

An Orange County man was sentenced to prison Monday for defrauding an elderly couple out of $5.5 million, authorities said.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford ordered John Arthur Walthall, 56, of La Habra to serve 168 months in federal prison and pay $2,479,000 in restitution to the victims, who are in their 80s.

A federal jury in Santa Ana convicted Walthall in December of four counts of wire fraud and one count of failure to appear in court.

In 2007, Walthall convinced an Orange County couple -- ages 83 and 80 at the time -- to invest $5.5 million in his company called Advanced Recycling General Partnership. He claimed he would use the funds to extract gold from abandoned mines.

Instead, prosecutors showed during the four-week trial, Walthall spent the victims' money to pay alimony to his ex-wife, film school tuition for his son, personal debts, and to buy multiple cars and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

"Fraud schemes that victimize older residents are nothing short of elder abuse," said U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. "While elder abuse is often committed by family members or caregivers, this case reminds us that the elderly can also be targeted by outside scam artists, whose actions can bring significant financial and emotional harm."

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-- Angel Jennings

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