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5-Year Prison Sentence Given in Fraud Case : Defendant Is Termed Ringleader of Scheme

San Diego County Business Editor

A businessman who federal prosecutors charged was a ringleader of a San Diego equipment-leasing fraud that bilked more than 20 companies of a total of $270,000, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $25,000 to two of his victims.

Gary Nixon Parker was also placed on five years’ probation by U.S. District Judge J. Lawrence Irving, who ordered Parker to surrender to prison authorities on Sept. 30.

Parker pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud in January after his indictment last year by a federal grand jury on 22 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and interstate transportation of property taken by fraud.

Parker and co-defendant Larry Kent Clark operated New England Commercial Corp., a San Diego equipment-leasing firm that sold “phony leases” in early 1984, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Charles F. Gorder Jr.

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Defense Argument

Parker “wasn’t a prime mover in the scheme--at best he was a minor player who didn’t understand the game being played,” defense attorney Michael Lipman argued in court. Parker met Clark at a “chance meeting” and he had “every reason to believe that Clark would operate the business in good faith,” Lipman said. He added that Parker has assisted prosecutors in their investigation of NECC and that it was Parker who informed authorities of Clark’s true identify.

The process of paying back NECC victims between $80,000 and $85,000 would have already started, Lipman said, but for a Los Angeles Times article in January that detailed NECC’s fraudulent operation. Because of that story, Lipman contended, Parker has had “great difficulty” securing employment in the equipment-leasing industry, and he is now working as a commissioned admissions representative for a local technical college.

Aliases Used

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Gorder described Parker as a “prime mover” in the NECC operation and said that Parker had used three aliases during his tenure with the firm: Stephen Marshall, Donald Hunnicut and Robert Ogden. (Clark used the name Joseph A. Butler.)

In addition, when NECC closed its operation--which was run from a modest house on Point Loma--on May 15, Parker had given the firm’s secretary an envelope containing about $2,000 in cash and instructed her to tell anyone looking for him or Clark that she had been employed by “a couple of black guys.” Parker and Clark are Caucasian.

Parker told Judge Irving that he was “truly remorseful,” and that he’d “like an opportunity to repay the victims.”

But Irving rejected both Parker’s offer to repay investors $1,000 per month and a federal probation report that recommended three years in prison.

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“I have no tolerance” of white-collar crime, Irving told Parker. “You worked as a con man, using phony names, and it’s stealing, no matter what you call it.”


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