"Dead" Man Caught Alive, Allegedly Cheating in Vegas

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 2:43 PM PDT
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Jailhouse Interview

No John Sung Park is not calling from beyond -- that's jail.

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Jailhouse Interview

Jailhouse interview with John Sung Park.
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Cheaters never prosper.

A mortgage investment broker believed to have faked his death to avoid jail by disappearing while fishing off Laguna Beach, Calif. was arrested in Las Vegas for cheating and also faces charges in Los Angeles County, police said.

John Sung Park, 29, of Buena Park, was arrested about 7:30 a.m. Monday at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas for allegedly cheating while gambling, Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jason Kravetz said Thursday.

Two friends reported Park missing Sept. 11, 2008, saying they lost sight of him while spear-fishing, sparking a massive nighttime search, after which Park was presumed dead.

Police later came to believe Park fled to escape a 150-day jail sentence for attempting to cash a $40 check from a checkbook he found at a grocery store in La Palma on Dec. 24, 2007, and for possession of Vicodin and marijuana.

Two weeks after the apparent drowning, a man resembling Park stole the 1994 Mercedes he had sold to a Tarzana woman just before disappearing, according to Los Angeles police.

While driving away, the car thief hit the new owner's daughter, and Park thus became a suspect in an assault with a deadly weapon case nearly two weeks after the reported drowning.

Kravetz said an informant recently told police that Park was in Las Vegas.

He had previously lived with his parents in Buena Park, and his parents believed he was dead, Kravetz said.

Park and the friends who reported him missing could be charged with filing a false report if it can be determined they were all in cahoots.

Park cannot be charged with that separately, because he did not call police, Kravetz said.

If nothing else, police would like to bill Park for the $50,000 that was spent on the search, Kravetz said.

"At the very least, he can expect to get a bill," Kravetz said.

A spokesperson for the Nevada State Gaming Board could not be reached for immediate comment.

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