A Huntington Harbour man convicted of bilking investors of $437,000 in a gold-buying scheme and a Utah ski lodge deal has been sentenced to 10 years in state prison, the maximum allowed under the law.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard J. Beacom handed down the sentence Friday against Julian R. Marx, who was convicted last month after a jury trial of 20 counts of grand theft and fraud.
Marx was convicted of defrauding 15 investors in two separate schemes, Deputy Dist. Atty. Carla Singer said. She said he would promise to reap huge profits for the investors by buying and reselling unrefined African gold. In the other scheme, he acquired money from people by promising to purchase the ski lodge on their behalf.
Prosecutors said Marx used the funds to support a lavish life style that included a five-bedroom house in Huntington Harbour, two Cadillacs, yacht club membership, entertainment and travel expenses.
Marx was accused of using nearly $4,900 to hire a maintenance man for his boat.
While Marx' public defender asked for probation for his client, Beacom accepted the prosecutors' recommendation to impose the maximum 10-year prison sentence for the swindle. Marx' attorney could not be reached for comment Saturday.
"I am very pleased with Judge Beacom's sentence because I think that it reflects a willingness on the part of courts in Orange County to treat theft by con as seriously as theft by violence," Singer said.
Marx was convicted of operating the West African Gold Acquisition Project, in which investors put up more than $200,000 on assurances that their money would be used to import raw gold, which would be resold in the United States at a profit, Singer said. The scheme operated between September, 1985, to April, 1986.
Marx later wrote a letter to the investors telling them that he had been the victim of a confidence scheme in Hong Kong and all their money was lost.
Another group of investors contributed to an attempt by Marx to buy the Stein Eriksen Ski Lodge in Utah for $12 million and resell it to a San Francisco group for $14 million.
Singer said evidence presented at the trial showed the purposed sales documents were forgeries and that Marx had made no sales offer.