BEND, Ore. - The prosecution of the two Bend teens who sold fake gold bars to unsuspecting victims was resolved Thursday in Deschutes County Juvenile Court after the victims of the scam received payment in full for their losses, prosecutors said.
The boys admitted the allegations against them and were sentenced by the court, District Attorney John Hummel said.
Because the case was handled in juvenile court, instead of adult circuit court, the details of the sentences the court handed down are confidential, Hummel said in a news release.
As a condition of resolving the case, Hummel required the ringleader of the scam to pay restitution in whole to all of the victims of his crimes. Once this restitution was agreed to, the case resolved.
“Kids can and will make stupid decisions,” Hummel said. “But when stupid decisions constitute a crime, and when innocent people lose thousands of dollars as a result, law enforcement, and me and the team in your DA’s office, will work our tails off to ensure victims get their money back.”
A challenge in this case was identifying all of the victims, according to Hummel, as hundreds of gold bars were sold. After the initial sales, many of the victims resold the items, and many of these sales were on the internet to people across the country. And many of the buyers of these second sales also resold the items, and so on, and so on.
Hummel said Bend Police Detective John Spano, DA Victim Advocate Kayla Bonnet, deputy district attorneys Katie Clason and Lillah Lehner, and the attorney for the ringleader of the crimes doggedly worked to track down as many victims as possible
The DA credited Bill and Michelle Fleming as "the shining lights in this case," and went on to explain why.
Bill Fleming Coin and Jewelry purchased some of the gold bars and then re-sold them. After the resales, Bill Fleming became concerned about the veracity of the gold and conducted a specialized acid test on the remaining bars in his possession -- and discovered they were fake.
Hummel said Fleming immediately contacted the customers and either refunded their money or gave them real gold of equivalent value.
"As a result, Bill and Michelle put themselves in a significant financial hole," the DA said. "The resolution of this case resulted in them receiving a restitution payment today in the amount of $44,400."
“Bill and Michelle Fleming are the type of business people that make Deschutes County proud,” Hummel said. "Bill Fleming Coin and Jewelry harkens back to a day when deals were sealed by handshakes and businesses stood behind their products. There are still businesses like this in our community, and Fleming Coin and Jewelry is a shining example.”