Man who vanished 30 years ago guilty in ID case

September 26, 2011 4:20:44 PM PDT
In this Intelligence Report: The price of disappearing.

Arthur Jones of Highland Park -- missing and presumed dead by his family for more than three decades -- turned up a few months ago in Las Vegas. Jones was living under a false identity. He was arrested, and Monday we learned his fate.

One May morning in 1979, Jones said goodbye to his wife and three children up in Highland Park. He told them he was going to a meeting. They never saw him again. Jones was declared legally dead a few years later.

But Arthur Jones wasn't dead. He was just scared of the Chicago mob after running up an outfit gambling tab that he couldn't pay. And so he abandoned his family.

Monday morning in Clark County, Nevada, district court, the odyssey of Arthur Jones officially came to an end.

The one-time trader pleaded guilty to felony fraud for seeking an application for a driver's license under a false name.

Jones, who was in his early 40s when he left Chicago, is now 73. He had used several aliases over the years. Nevada authorities found him working at the Rampart Casino under the alias Joseph R. Sandelli. He was working in the sports book section of the casino.

According to Jones' Nevada plea agreement obtained by the I-Team, "The defendant will receive probation as mandated by law...the state retains the right to argue terms and conditions of probation."

The sentence would require Jones pay restitution to the Social Security administration and potentially to victims whose identies was stolen.

Despite his plea deal, the judge Monday reminded Jones that she has the final say. She said "the actual sentence is always up to the court. He still has to qualify, even though this is a mandatory probation case...He has to qualify for that. So it is always at the discretion of the court."

For Jones, the punishment would be far less than what he may have escaped by exiting Chicago 32 years ago. At the time, there was a ferocious bookie war under way in the outfit, with gangland bookmakers and bettors ending up dead. In 1979, Jones was said to owe a giant juice loan debt and was trying to work it off as a mob messenger.

If the judge for some reason didn't accept Jones' plea agreement with prosecutors, he could be handed a sentence of up to six years. It is more likely that he will receive five years of probation and have to repay up to $75,000 for ill-gotten Social Security benefits.

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