SANTA ANA — A high school teacher has pleaded guilty to swindling students and colleagues out of more than $250,000 as part of a gold-commodities scheme and faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced, authorities said Tuesday.
Stanley Gordon, 54, was a popular, jewelry-making teacher at Santa Ana High School who persuaded at least 25 people to invest in a bogus gold-refining process that he claimed would make them money, investigators said. He told investors he could buy used or scrap gold at low prices, refine it, and sell it for high profits.
Gordon pleaded guilty Friday to 46 felony counts of defrauding investors. He faces a maximum of 12 years in prison, but Orange County Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg has indicated he will not sentence Gordon to more than five years, Deputy Dist. Atty. William L. Overtoom said.
Prosecutors described Gordon as a heartless thief who cared little for his victims. Defense attorney Robert D. Coviello, however, has stressed that Gordon's investors made money from the ventures. Coviello, who could not be reached Tuesday, has said Gordon was himself victimized by a gold dealer who made off with money belonging to Gordon and others.
Prosecutors said they suspect that Gordon bilked unwitting victims of the money he used to bankroll a lavish lifestyle: He allegedly bought cars for girlfriends, traveled to Paris and Madrid, and even stayed in $4,000-a-night rooms in Las Vegas, officials said.
Gordon remains in custody pending sentencing April 15.