VISTA, Calif. - A North County man who pleaded guilty to a series of sophisticated cons that bilked people and banks out of millions of dollars is going to prison.
Tyler Adams, 40, represented himself at his sentencing in Vista court Thursday, asking the judge to give him probation for more than 40 felony counts.
However, Judge Robert Kearney gave him 14 years in prison.
Before issuing the sentence, three of Adams' victims told the judge how he took advantage of them.
Jeweler Keith Norris testified that Adams posed as a contractor when he paid for an expensive watch with a company check. The company was legitimate, but Adams was using someone else's name and checkbook.
"He was a professional con man and I was his victim, and now I'm out a watch and $5,000," said Norris.
Clark Foster testified his identity was stolen by Adams, who used it to apply for credit cards with available balances of up to $250,000.
Sandra Johnson was a loan officer who did business with Adams. She claimed in court that because of fraudulent loans like the one Adams made, her company went out of business and she went from making $100,000 per year to making $11 per hour.
Adams broke down in tears as a video was played of his stepfather, Donald Chaffee, who lives in Pennsylvania.
Chaffee told how Adams convinced him to share his good credit so he could buy some land near Temecula. His identity was stolen, and his life and finances are now in shambles.
Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn told the judge there are several other victims in Adams' sophisticated scheme, which included check kiting, real estate fraud and identity theft.
Authorities said Adams also used various disguises as part of his plans.
Adams, who was dressed in jailhouse blues, spoke for several minutes, telling the court he accepts responsibility, while also blaming the real estate meltdown for many of the problems associated with his case.
"When the real estate industry crashed, everything around me crashed. I didn't know where to go. I was in panic mode. Everything that I knew went down the drain," Adams said.
"I got into real estate because I wanted to help families secure their homes in a manner that gave them more money to spend on their families," he said, adding that he had helped 400 families successfully refinance their mortgages.
Adams spoke about the horrible people in jail and said he wants to give back to the community by counseling young people about the dangers of drugs and violence.
In the end, Kearney called Adams crimes "brutal, prolific and sophisticated" before handing down the sentence.
Adams said he plans to appeal the sentence.