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May 29, 2015

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Sentencing set for ‘dead’ man who was hiding in Las Vegas for decades

Arthur Jones was arrested July 19 and charged with four felony counts of false identity, identity theft and fraud.

Arthur Jones was arrested July 19 and charged with four felony counts of false identity, identity theft and fraud.

For a man who has been legally dead for 25 years, Arthur Jones was decidedly alive this morning in a Las Vegas courtroom.

The former Chicago broker made his plea to a Class E felony fraud charge after having been in hiding for 32 years as a casino worker in Las Vegas.

“Guilty,” Jones told Arraignment Hearing Master Melisa De La Garza when she asked him how he pleaded to a charge of seeking an application for a driver's license or identity card under a false name.

Jones, 73, who is out of custody on $20,000 bail, originally had been charged with four felony counts of false identity, identity theft and fraud.

Jones pleaded to the reduced charges under a deal he worked out with the Nevada Attorney General’s office, which found that he had an interesting story — he disappeared from his Chicago-area home in 1979 and had moved to the Las Vegas area and assumed a new identity.

“He will receive probation, as mandated by law,” Jones’ attorney, Stephen Stein told the judge at the arraignment. However, Deputy Attorney General Adam Woodrum will retains the right to argue the terms and conditions of the probation, Stein said.

Under the agreement, Jones will make restitution to the Social Security Administration, which will be determined by the court, Stein said. Stein has said Jones could end up paying between $46,000 and $75,000 for Social Security fraud.

De La Garza told Jones that under the deal, he could face a prison term of between one and six years and could be fined up to $5,000.

Although, it is a probationary offense, sentencing is strictly up to the courts and nobody can promise probation, leniency or special treatment, she told him.

When De La Garza saw Stein shaking his head “no” when she talked about the sentencing, she said “the actual sentence is always up to the court. He still has to qualify, even though this is a mandatory probation case,” De La Garza said. “He has to qualify for that. So it is always at the discretion of the court.”

After being assured that Jones had read through his guilty plea agreement and understood it, De La Garza read the charge. It said that on May 19, 2008, he used a false name on an application to obtain a drivers license at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles in Henderson.

The guilty plea said he made statements misrepresenting his name, date of birth, Social Security number and personal identification information on the application.

She ordered him to go to the court’s parole and probation department for a pre-sentence investigation report. She also ordered him to return to court at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 31 for sentencing in district court before Judge James Bixler.

Neither Jones, Stein or Woodrum would make any comments after the arraignment.

Jones was living in Las Vegas under the alias of Joseph Sandelli and is believed to have used that name since his disappearance from Highland Park, Ill., in 1979. His arrest came after a complaint regarding the fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

The reason for his disappearance was unclear but authorities in Chicago said he might have met some trouble because of gambling debts and possible organized crime affiliations. Stein said the reasons for his disappearance will be revealed later.

Jones was declared legally deceased in 1986 and his wife and children collected Social Security benefits as a result. Investigators say Jones obtained a false Illinois driver's license, birth certificate and Social Security number he claims to have purchased in 1979 for $800 in Chicago. He allegedly used the documents to get a Nevada driver's license in 1988.

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