Photo: Contributed Photo / Bjoern Wylezich – TNS
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A Massachusetts man who defrauded a Connecticut art dealer was sentenced to five years probation in federal court on Wednesday.
Harold Gordon, 71, of Templeton, Mass., was sentenced to probation on one count of wire fraud, stemming from a scheme that started in 2012, federal authorities said.
In October 2012, Grodon started talking to an art dealer and appraiser in Connecticut by phone and email to get the dealer to buy a tall, antique desk, commonly known as a “secretary desk,” authorities said.
Gordon falsely told the victim that the desk was decorated and dedicated as a Civil War memorial for a Connecticut solider who died in the Battle of Antietam while fighting for the Union, authorities said.
“These misrepresentations included Gordon’s claims that the surviving soldiers in the fallen soldier’s Connecticut regiment had crafted the desk to serve as a war memorial for the deceased soldier’s family; 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,” federal authorities said in a news release.
In March 2014, the victim went to Gordon’s Massachusetts home to look at the desk, and took several steps to confirm the authenticity of it. The victim eventually bought the desk from Gordon for $64,500 — providing the payment in three separate checks at Gordon’s request, authorities said.
The following February, the victim sold the desk to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. After the sale, the victim sent another $25,000 to Gordon because the victim made “a significant profit” off the desk, authorities said.
In February 2018, three years after the desk was sold to the museum in Hartford, various third parties made inquiries to the victim about the desk’s authenticity. The victim confronted Gordon, who admitted he refurbished and decorated the desk himself, authorities said.
Authorities said Gordon told the victim he “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.”
Authorities arrested Gordon, who pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on Jan. 29, 2019.
The victim made full restitution to the museum. The judge ordered Gordon to pay restitution of $84,500 to the victim.
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