A man who has been called the universe's biggest con artist is back behind bars.
Jeffrey James Sanders, an Edmond landscaper, is accused of defrauding a number of high-profile people, including Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, well-known defense attorney Scott Adams and Norman surgeon R.J. Langerman.
Sanders, 42, who pleaded guilty in May in an unrelated case involving obtaining money by false pretenses and perjury, returned to jail Friday when a judge increased his bail to $100,000.
Sentencing for Sanders in that case was continued until Dec. 7, after a number of people testified he bilked them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in unrelated cases.
The attorney for Sanders said prosecutors tried to influence District Judge Kenneth C. Watson by calling witnesses to testify against his client, even though he has not been charged with the crimes they are alleging.
Watson ordered a $100,000 cash bond for Sanders, who had been free on $14,000 bail, after hearing from several alleged victims who appeared in court at the request of prosecutors.
The judge said testimony from the alleged victims, even though they have no connection to the cases before him, “shows a pattern of conduct on his part.”
“I don't want him out there scamming someone else,” Watson said.
Sanders' attorney, Michael McBride, said prosecutors, who want to send Sanders to prison for five years, are unfairly targeting his clients for what amounts to “bad business deals.”
“Any other person would get probation,” McBride said.
“It leads me to believe they are not prosecuting him solely on the crimes that he has been charged with.”
Prosecutors are investigating the allegations against Sanders, whose alleged victims include Prater and Adams, who received a subpoena to appear Friday, along with Langerman.
The orthopedic surgeon told the judge Sanders bilked him out of $1.2 million he invested in a bogus landscaping project.
“I wanted to make the judge understand that this person is a community predator,” Langerman said outside the courtroom.
“I'd like him taken off the street so he doesn't do this to anyone else.”
Several alleged victims who testified said they met Sanders at youth sporting events or church, where he proposed landscaping business deals with lucrative returns.
Many have sued Sanders in civil court for breach of contract, and some, like Oklahoma City attorney Kelly George, have won judgments against him.
“I've never met anybody quite like him,” said George, who won a $3,500 judgment against Sanders in 2008. “He's nice. You want to help him.”
Adams called Sanders “the biggest con man in the history of the universe.”
The attorney said he was victimized by Sanders, who was hired to install a gate at his Edmond home. Adams estimates Sanders was paid in excess of $30,000 for work that was never completed.
“He's been ripping off people for a long time,” said Prater, who hired Sanders to do some landscaping at his house in 2008.
“They did part of the work and then disappeared,” he said.
“I shouldn't have paid them in advance.”
Prater said Friday he is not involved in prosecuting Sanders.
Former Sooner basketball star Eduardo Najera and his wife won a $232,763 judgment against the landscaper's business in August 2008 after no one responded to their lawsuit.
Prosecutors charged Sanders with perjury in 2010 after he lied in court about a prior conviction.
He pleaded guilty to arson in 2004 in Texas.
In the other case before Watson, Sanders deposited a bad check for $1,400 and received $700 back, records show.