A successful Orange County certified public accountant and property owner indicted for his role in a brazen con game got a break this week inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.
Facing a potential prison trip, Michael Alan Taylor of Seal Beach argued that while he worked closely with San Juan Capistrano-based swindler Carl Larue Godfrey on a series of fraud schemes that duped investors out of more than $1 million he'd been a relatively ignorant, minor player.
The U.S. Department of Justice (or, perhaps just Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer L. Waier, who habitually files documents shrouded in Top Secret, James Bond-fashion) doesn't want the public to know it's stance on Taylor's punishment.
What is known, however, is that U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna gave Taylor--who was born in 1953 and claims he performs charity work at the City of San Bernardino Route 66 Rendezvous as well as for the American Cancer Society--a huge break by sentencing him merely to a term of probation for two years.
He'll also have to pay a $2,000 fine and at least $357,000 in restitution.
In October 2008, a grand jury indicted Taylor and Godfrey for operating a con game that convinced investors that they had invented a "magnet motor" that would "with a small initial input of energy" generate a huge power supply, a development on the brink of revolutionizing automobile engines, household appliances and nuclear powered U.S. Navy ships.
Godfrey concocted the role of a wealthy, genius by falsely claiming he'd earned a master's degree in engineering and failed to tell investors that he was a convicted felon who spent time in a California prison for a prior grand theft scheme in the 1990s.
According to the indictment, Godfrey claimed he owned large tracts of property in Hawaii and got people to invest in advance of planned residential and commercial developments, but he didn't own the land.
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Funny part of the case: Godfrey--a grandfather and Red Cross volunteer born in 1945--tried to convince Judge Selna that he was disgusted by the lack of ethics in current society and that he is a "southern gentlemen" born in South Carolina and dedicated to nothing more than the Lord and his family.
Last December, Godfrey received a punishment of 70 months of incarceration and was ordered to pay $1.98 million in restitution. He has appealed his case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is awaiting a response at his new home: The federal prison at Lompoc. If he losses his appeal, he'll be stuck there until about April 2014.
Godfrey's tainted business entities included Safevest LLC and GTS Research, Inc. and used New York bank accounts to help dupe investors, according to government records that Waier didn't bother to seal from public view.