Eccentric OC Man Sentenced For $5.5M Gold Mining Scheme

SANTA ANA (CBS) — A Laguna Beach man convicted of swindling an elderly couple out of millions of dollars in order to pay for his bizarre lifestyle will spend the next 14 years in federal prison.

KNX 1070’s Brian Ping reports John Arthur Walthall was a fugitive in an elaborate gold-mining scheme who has some rather eccentric tastes.

A federal judge Monday sentenced Walthall to nearly fourteen years in prison on several counts of wire fraud and failure to appear in court.

Walthall, 56, told a couple in their 80s that he had experience in gold extraction and that he would use their $5.5 million investment to extract gold from abandoned mines.

But instead, Walthall spent the money to pay off part of a $250,000 loan he received from a former fiancee, as well as his son’s $10,000 film school tuition and even buying a hyperbaric oxygen chamber estimated to be worth $60,000, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

He jumped bail last year, but was arrested by the FBI in Nevada while carrying a gun and a book titled “How To Be Invisible”.

In a bizarre sentencing hearing, Walthall tried to fire his attorney, lashed out at the victims, and was turned down when he asked to read a 607-page statement that he said he’d been working on for six months.

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