Man, 28, sentenced to 9 years in scheme

He impersonated officer to con Carroll woman

February 02, 2005|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County judge sentenced a Baltimore County man yesterday to nine years in jail for impersonating a police officer and conning a Finksburg woman out of nearly $41,800 in one month -- money he said was going toward undercover investigations but that authorities said was gambled away in Atlantic City.

Circuit Judge J. Barry Hughes described John Howard Sachs III, 28, of the 1700 block of Woodland Drive in Dundalk as a "thief, con artist and predator" in his manipulation of Mary Wall, a Finksburg nurse and single mother who first met Sachs in late 2003 in an Internet chat room under his screen name of "bmoreshottestcop."

Sachs pleaded guilty to felony theft and impersonating a police officer and asked for a 5-year sentence as part of his plea agreement.

Prosecutors, defense attorneys and charging documents showed that Sachs had a history of conning women out of thousands of dollars to pay for a gambling addiction.

The judge went beyond the sentencing guidelines to hand down a 15-year jail term with all but nine years suspended. "You've shown yourself to be a thief, a con artist and a predator on this community," Hughes told Sachs. "I can't take the chance you'd do this to someone else."

He compared Sachs to the con artist in the film Catch Me if You Can.

"That was a romantic comedy, but there is nothing romantic about what you've done and nothing funny about what you've done," Hughes said.

Sachs apologized to Wall in court.

"I'm really sorry for what took place," said Sachs, a nearly 6-foot-tall, 250-pound man with a crew cut. "I knew I was doing wrong. My gambling problem has gotten out of control the last few years."

Sachs is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center, where he has been held since August and will remain until July for his convictions last year on similar schemes involving two Baltimore County women. He will serve the latest term of nine years at the state's Division of Correction.

The judge also ordered five years' supervised probation for Sachs after he is released and to pay full restitution to Wall.

Defense attorney David P. Henninger said, "He has every intention in the world" of paying restitution.

Wall appeared shaken as she tearfully told the judge how Sachs' "betrayal of trust" had turned her life upside down and how she has to work overtime to repay the debt.

"Unlike Mr. Sachs, I am an honest and decent member of society," Wall said.

Melissa O. Hockensmith, senior assistant state's attorney of Carroll County, said that Sachs should receive as many years in jail as Wall will spend digging out from under that debt.

From Dec. 14, 2003, to Jan. 17 of last year, police said Sachs persuaded Wall to give him more than $41,000, which wiped out her checking and savings accounts and maxed out her credit cards in cash advances.

Police said the two met in a Westminster restaurant, where Sachs "flashed a badge" and told her that he was a Baltimore police officer who worked as an undercover narcotics detective.

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