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Man Pleads Guilty in $5-Million Golf Scam

September 17, 2003|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

A Lakewood man pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Santa Ana federal courtroom to participating in a scheme that allegedly bilked about 5,000 golfers nationwide out of almost $5 million.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Warren Joseph Crawford, 45, spearheaded a telemarketing scam based in Huntington Beach that offered golfers the use of high-quality golf clubs for 60 days after they paid security deposits of between $1,000 and $1,600.

In his plea agreement, Crawford said his company, Professional Golf Products, kept the security deposits even after players returned the clubs.

Crawford, who was one of nine defendants indicted last year on 20 counts of mail and wire fraud, pleaded guilty to one count each.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and he could be required to pay a $250,000 fine, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Kenneth Julian.

Crawford's company assembled the golf clubs and carried out the scheme for nearly two years before it was discovered by a telemarketing-fraud task force in 2001, Julian said.

"PGP was operated as a scheme to defraud golfers," Julian said.

A co-defendant, Steven Parker, 48, of Redondo Beach, pleaded guilty Sept. 5 to one count each of mail and wire fraud.

Still facing trial Oct. 7 in Santa Ana are John Tepel, 51 of Huntington Beach; Glenn Totten, 43, of Thousand Oaks; Rick Winters, 51, of Costa Mesa; Larry Brock, 40, of Garden Grove; Thorin Scott, 42, of Huntington Beach; Tony Perotta, 43, of Costa Mesa; and Marvin Walker, 46, of Costa Mesa.

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