An Edmond Oklahoma landscaper who pleaded guilty last spring to charges of perjury and obtaining money by false pretenses was returned to jail last week after an Oklahoma County District Court judge increased his bail from $14,000 to $100,000.
Charges of Perjury & Fraud
Bail was increased for Jeffrey James Sanders, 42, after a parade of high-profile clients told District Judge Kenneth C. Watson that the landscaper had swindled them out of more than a million dollars in unpaid investments and unfinished landscaping projects.
Witnesses included Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, a well-known criminal defense attorney, and a Norman orthopedic surgeon. Though Sanders's defense attorney argued that the witness testimony should be irrelevant because his client has not been charged with any of the crimes they allege, Judge Watson said that the testimony demonstrated a pattern of criminal behavior, and therefore necessitated an increased bond.
District Attorney David Prater, who says he is not involved in Sanders's prosecution, told the judge that he hired Sanders for a landscaping project in 2008, and though he paid in advance, the work was never completed. Norman surgeon R.J. Langerman told the judge that he invested more than $1.2 million in a landscaping project for Sanders, only to discover that he had been swindled.
Others have had similar problems with the landscaper and have won civil judgments against him, including Eduaro Najera, former Sooner basketball standout and NBA player. In 2008, Najera won a judgment of more than $232,000 from Sanders's landscaping business, Landscapes Unlimited of Oklahoma. Najera loaned Sanders money for landscaping jobs and guaranteed a bank loan that Sanders failed to repay.
According to the basketball player, Sanders was "a very likeable guy — a guy who uses everything in his power to get to you, to get your confidence," a sentiment echoed by Oklahoma City attorney Kelly George. George says of Sanders, "He's nice. You want to help him," but later won a $3,500 judgment against the landscaper.
At the time of Najera's civil suit, another group of investors won a judgment of more than $135,000, saying that Sanders used their investments to pay off other debts. Sanders acknowledged in bankruptcy court that he owed more than $1.75 million, but denied defrauding the investors and others, saying, "It wasn't deliberately. There were several things that happened on a couple of key jobs. So, it wasn't anything intentional."
Sanders's bankruptcy attorney quit when his client didn't pay him. In addition to the civil and criminal complaints against him, Jeffrey Sanders has had other difficulties with the law. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to an arson charge in Texas. In 2006, he was charged in Oklahoma County with a misdemeanor of making false statements on a credit application. Though that charge was dropped after he paid restitution, his defense attorney in the case is now one of the ones providing testimony against him.
The attorney, who paid Sanders more than $30,000 for a gate installation that was never completed, called his former client "the biggest con man in the history of the universe."