Virginia Beach man sentenced after executing marriage fraud scheme to defraud elderly man

Posted at 8:45 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 14:09:09-04

NORFOLK, Va. – The Virginia Beach man accused of orchestrating a scheme that took advantage of an elderly man with “diminished mental capacity” was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for defrauding the victim of nearly $157,000.

News 3’s Margaret Kavanagh reported in early April that 55-year-old John Michael Gatchell arranged a marriage between the elderly man and a woman with whom Gatchell was in a long-term relationship in order to obtain the victim’s money and property.

The alleged scheme took place from October 2015 until September 2016. Gatchell was charged with one count of mail fraud.

John Gatchell

Court documents say Gatchell induced the man to make a down payment on a Jaguar that Gatchell and a family member drove for about 10 months before it was repossessed by the lender when the loan went into default.

Gatchell also induced the victim to obtain two mortgage loans and then diverted most of the proceeds to the benefit of himself and others. He then induced the man to sell the property that secured the loans and again diverted most of the proceeds to himself and others.

Related: Virginia Beach woman indicted for cross-country scheme targeting the elderly 

Gatchell used the money that he fraudulently diverted to himself to buy concert series tickets, pay delinquent bills and make a security deposit and advance rent payments for a house he leased, among other things.

“The financial and emotional harm these scams cause elderly victims and their family members can be devastating,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This office will continue to aggressively prosecute crimes involving elder fraud, and we remain committed to working closely with our local and state partners to ensure that those who choose to engage in fraud activity are held accountable and brought to justice.”