Ex-Chicago trader pleads guilty to fraud over disappearance

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 26, 2011 5:48 PM
Ex-Chicago trader pleads guilty to fraud over disappearance

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - A former Chicago commodities trader who disappeared in 1979, possibly fleeing the mob, and was later declared dead before reemerging in Las Vegas pleaded guilty to fraud on Monday, authorities said.

Arthur Gerald Jones, 73, who was arrested in July after he was discovered living under the name Joseph Richard Sandelli, admitted to one count of fraud linked to an application for a drivers license, Nevada Attorney General spokeswoman Jennifer Lopez said.

Jones, who entered his guilty plea under an agreement with prosecutors, had originally been charged with four felony charges related to identify theft and fraud.

Jones disappeared over three decades ago from Highland Park, Illinois, and police believed at the time that he may have been a victim of foul play, citing gambling debts and possible links to organized crime, the DMV said. He was declared dead in 1986.

But earlier this year, Jones was found working at the Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, a job he had held for a decade, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles said at the time of his arrest.

After Jones resurfaced, a DMV investigator concluded that he had "voluntarily left his family and friends in 1979, possibly fleeing the mob" to start a new life, according to an affidavit filed by investigator Doug Staubs.

Jones, who once held a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade, told authorities that following a trading mistake, he had been forced to sell his seat to pay his debt, the affidavit said.

He then decided to leave his family, citing a troubled marriage, unemployment, and a desire for a "fresh start", according to the affidavit.

His former wife gave a different story, telling authorities he sold his seat to pay personal gambling debts. She said he once bet $30,000 on a basketball game and at one point took out a second mortgage to pay gambling debts, the affidavit said.

Category E felonies, the least serious felony class in Nevada, may include prison time but more often consist of probation and a monetary fine.

(Writing and reporting by Mary Slosson, Editing by Dan Whitcomb)