By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek….
On December 18, Edwin Chauncey, the former owner and operator of Chauncey’s Rare Coins and Currency in Lubbock, TX, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for swindling $1.24 million from customers.
Standing before Judge Brad Underwood of the 364th District Court in Lubbock County, Chauncey, 66, plead guilty in November of this year. He was charged with two counts of first-degree felony theft of over $200,000 on October 12, 2011. The thefts occurred when Chauncey received advance payment for the purchase of gold coins but subsequently failed to deliver said coins to the respective buyers.
Chauncey’s legal troubles started in August 2011, when William and Lila Ratheal of Irrigated Farms in Floydada, TX filed a civil suit against him. In June 2011, the couple paid Chauncey $250,000 in exchange for more than 150 one-ounce gold coins. When Chauncey failed to deliver the coins by July, he told them that the coins were being rationed. By August, Chauncey claimed to have only 20 in his possession.
Chauncey also reportedly told other customers that his inability to fill orders was due to a robbery that occurred earlier in the year in Plainview, TX. Ultimately, 23 separate people and businesses sued Chauncey in civil court, with some lawsuits alleging fraudulent inducement.
As a result, Judge William C. Sowder of the 99th District Court ordered the Texas coin dealer to stop doing business. The Ratheals then hired a private investigator to see if Chauncey was in compliance with the court order. The investigator purchased coins from Chauncey in his store, and as a result Judge Sowder had the Sheriff’s Office padlock Chauncey’s establishment.
In 2012, Judge Sowder ordered the liquidation of Chauncey’s business, with $533,168 from liquidation going to the plaintiffs.
At the December 18 sentencing hearing, Keith Thompson, Chauncey’s attorney, requested probation for his client. Judge Underwood sentenced Chauncey to 10 years in prison for one count and 10 years probation for the other, to be served concurrently.