On April 28, statements from victims of admitted fraudster Dennis Eugene Long so impressed a judge that he broke the plea deal in order to sentence the con artist to 12 years in prison instead of 7.
In San Diego Superior Court, judge Michael J. Popkins said, “I am moved by everyone’s comments” and “I am just appalled by what happened in this case.” The judge also stated that “Stealing from friends is even more serious.”
Popkins informed Long, 65, that because he planned to use his discretion to increase the prison term described in the plea deal, Long had the option to withdraw his guilty plea and the case would then go on to trial.
Long and his court-appointed attorney wanted time to consider the matter, and May 12 was set as the date when they would respond.
Prior to the judge’s announcement, 13 victims spoke before the court, each describing a betrayal by the defendant. Long had met most of his victims through churches and Bible-study groups or associations through his daughter and her activities.
Long was arrested on April 18, 2014. He was originally charged with 69 felony counts, including grand theft, securities fraud, and residential burglary. He has been held in lieu of $1 million bail.
The defendant pleaded guilty to five counts in January of this year. With a stipulated sentence of seven years in state prison, he might have expected to serve half that time with “good behavior.”
One of his victims accused Long of having a “safety deposit box somewhere,” and Long shook his head “no” while she spoke.
All of the victims declared that the seven-year sentence was not enough, and they expected Long to continue his swindles after he was released. Some of the victims’ statements included: “He’s a great liar.” “He traded our genuine friendship for a payday.” “He stole from us the ability to trust people.” “Obviously he looked at all of us as targets.” “With tears in his eyes, Dennis said he was praying for my Parkinson’s disease.”
One victim complained that his money paid for the fraudster’s Hair Club for Men membership, spray tans, veneers on his teeth, and an expensive leased car.
Long was described as a swindler, a fake, a crook, a false prophet, a predator, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Many of the victims who spoke turned to address Long directly. Some of their comments included: “We prayed with you during your supposed battle with leukemia” and “You are a sick person.”
One victim who was tricked into the investment scheme complained that when she contacted Long for the promised payout: “He made excuse after excuse after excuse.”