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July 20, 11

NEWS / La Habra Man Charged with Defrauding Elderly Couple Considered Fugitive, Wanted by the FBI

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 27th, 2011.

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 wire fraud. The indictment states that the victims, both of whom were in their late 80s, gave Walthall more than $4.7 million dollars to invest in technology aimed at finding gold in abandoned mines.

Walthall’s trial is currently scheduled for September 13, 2011. 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. On June 23, 2011, Judge Andrew J. Guilford ordered Walthall to appear at a hearing to address the government’s motion on June 27, 2011 at 3:00p.m. Walthall did not appear at the hearing and Judge Guilford issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

Walthall is described as follows:
Race: White
DOB: 9/13/55
Hair: Brown
Height: 5’8”
Eyes: Hazel
Weight: 195

A Department of Motor Vehicles photograph of Walthall, dated March 2010, is being released to the media.

According to the indictment, Walthall convinced the victims to invest in a partnership called “Advanced Recycling General Partners,” for the purported 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 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 approximately $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 450 pick-up truck.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Walthall is urged to contact the FBI 24 hours a day at 888 CANT HIDE (888 226-8443).

This continuing investigation is being conducted by the FBI. Walthall will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

FBI Media Relations: Laura Eimiller, 310 996-3343
United States Attorney’s Office: Thom Mrozek, 213 894-6947




AnnaMaria Realbuto
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Kateryna Melnychenko
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Rani Payne
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Serge Bauer Law
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