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Con man remains behind bars; defense claims episode a 'lovers' quarrel'

 

As Simon Gann shuffled into the San Mateo County courtroom for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 27, he looked meek and rather as if his orange jumpsuit and shackles were a size too large. He left the same way he came in, escorted by a bailiff, after the judge upheld the charges.

Mr. Gann was arrested Aug. 16 in Menlo Park. His alleged 32-year-old victim met him at a Palo Alto Starbucks nearly three weeks before she realized he had assumed a false identity and lied about being a stockbroker with a degree in math from MIT.

Menlo Park police officer Felicia Byars offered the hearing's only sworn testimony. She said the pair spent two afternoons gambling at the Artichoke Joe's casino in San Bruno. Mr. Gann claimed that Asperger's Syndrome gave him "the ability to count cards like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman."

Officer Byars testified that the defendant did win about $1,200 playing blackjack.

During the relationship, she said, the victim loaned Mr. Gann approximately $1,900 "because she believed him and trusted him" when he talked about losing his wallet and passport in Los Angeles.

After Officer Byars testified, defense attorney Edward Pomeroy spun a scenario of two lovers who had quarreled. "He tells a woman he is something he's not," Mr. Pomeroy told the judge. "We have a tendency to do that. This case doesn't belong in criminal court."

Judge James Ellis was not amused, telling the attorney, "I ask that when you say (we), you don't include me."

Mr. Gann remains in custody, with bail set at $100,000, on charges of theft by false pretenses, resisting arrest, and grand theft. The court scheduled an arraignment for Sept. 10.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the 29-year-old man could serve up to four years in prison if convicted of all charges.

His bail tripled after Menlo Park police discovered his convictions for five counts of fraud and two for uttering threats in Canada last fall. After California resolves this case, an outstanding warrant awaits him in New Hampshire.

His identical twin brother, Jordan, is serving five years in a Florida prison for talking a woman out of thousands of dollars by posing as an Ivy League oncologist and real estate mogul in 2008.

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