Elderly couple allegedly scammed out of $5 million

LA HABRA - A La Habra man charged with defrauding an elderly couple is being sought by the FBI after he failed to appear for a court hearing on June 27.John Arthur Walthall, 55, was arrested by the FBI in 2009 for defrauding an elderly Laguna Nigel couple out of nearly $5 million, according to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Orange County. Walthall faces charges including multiple counts of fraud. The indictment states that the victims, both of whom were in their late 80s, gave Walthall more than $4.7 million to invest in technology aimed at finding gold in abandoned mines. Walthall's trial is currently scheduled to begin Sept. 13. A recent motion was filed by the government seeking to revoke Walthall's bond due to findings that he had been exaggerating a medical condition in order to avoid trial. A judge ordered Walthall to appear at a hearing on June 27 to address the motion but he did not appear. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest. Walthall is described as a white man, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 195 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. According to the indictment, Walthall convinced his victims to invest in a partnership called "Advanced Recycling General Partners," for the purpose of searching for and extracting gold from old mines. Walthall allegedly told the elderly couple that he had invested more than $3 million of his own money in more than a decade's worth of research in the gold extraction process. The large majority of the couple's money was not used for its intended purpose, but was used by Walthall for his own gold investments and personal expenses, including making alimony and child support payments for his four children, paying rent and other living expenses. In addition, Walthall allegedly used investor money to purchase multiple vehicles and luxury items, among them a $10,000 payment to a film school and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber worth about $60,000. When Walthall was arrested in 2009, agents found approximately $500,000 in gold coins under his bed during a search of his residence. Agents also seized three vehicles Walthall had purchased with investor money, including two Ford Excursions and a Ford F-450 pick-up truck. Anyone with information on Walthall's whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI at any time by calling (888) 226-8443. Tipsters can remain anonymous. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI. Walthall will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office in the Central District of California.

********** Published: July 21, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 14