A 71-year-old Massachusetts man who attempted to pull a one-over on a respected Connecticut art dealer and appraiser has will avoid prison after he admitted to attempting to dupe him by falsely representing an alleged desk from the Civil War during a sale.
Worcester County resident Harold Gordon, of Templeton, was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty last year to one count of wire fraud after he attempted to scam his victim out of nearly $65,000.
In October 2012, Gordon began a transaction with a Connecticut art dealer in an attempt to induce him to purchase a secretary desk, U.S. Attorney John Durham said.
While speaking with his victim, Gordon falsely represented that the "secretary desk" was decorated and dedicated as a Civil War memorial for a Connecticut soldier who died at the Battle of Antietam while fighting for the Union Army.
While speaking with the art dealer, Gordon claimed that the surviving soldiers in the fallen soldier’s Connecticut regiment had crafted the desk to serve as a war memorial for the dead soldier’s family.
Gordon further stated that other than cleaning the vintage clock, Gordon had done nothing else to refurbish or decorate the desk; and that Gordon had purchased the desk from a descendant of the deceased Connecticut soldier.
In March 2014, Gordon’s victim examined the secretary desk at Gordon’s Massachusetts home, and then took subsequent steps to confirm the desk’s authenticity.
The victim then purchased the desk from Gordon for $64,500. At Gordon’s request, his victim provided the payment in three separate checks.
The following year, in February, the victim sold the desk to a museum and non-profit organization in Connecticut.
After completing this transaction, the victim sent Gordon an additional payment of $25,000 because he had made a “significant profit from the sale,” Durham said.
Various third parties made inquiries to the victim about the authenticity of the secretary desk in February 2018.
The victim contacted Gordon, who admitted that he had refurbished and decorated the desk himself, created the false narrative about the desk’s history, and targeted the victim to purchase it due to the victim’s respected stature in the American folk art community.
The victim then made full restitution to the institution that had purchased the desk from him.
In addition to his probation, District Judge Jeffrey Meyer also ordered Gordon to pay his victim $84,500 in restitution.
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