Robert McLaughlin, 76, of Lakewood, will stand trial in Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River for allegedly fleecing a South African man out of $75,000 in a fake gold deal. The defendant declined to enter into a plea agreement with prosecutor and will instead take his chances at trial before Superior Court Judge Wendel Daniels.
McLaughlin was indicted for theft and money laundering and is exposed to fifteen years in state prison. He would be required to serve nearly eight years before becoming eligible for parole. The plea bargain would have had the defendant plead guilty to theft if the state would recommend a 7-year term in state prison and restitution.
The defendant allegedly accepted over $70k from a gold broker and spent the money on himself rather than the gold he had promised to deliver. After the gold was never delivered, the broker contacted the police, who arrested McLaughlin in June. The defendant did not make bail, and is lodged in the Ocean County Jail.