The decade-long career of a northern California con man came to an end on Aug. 2, at least temporarily, when Jeffrey Lang pled no contest to three felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of identity theft in Sacramento County Superior Court. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, where's he's been jailed since last December.
Two women working with the Folsom Police Department brought Lang to justice. They are part of a larger group of seven women, most of whom met Lang through online dating services in 2015 and 2016, who allege they've been romanced and swindled out of thousands of dollars by the sweet-talking grifter. One member of the group, after reading about my own experience with Lang's shady behavior on a 2013 Facebook post, contacted me in January to inform me Lang was in jail, and I've been following the case ever since.
The hero of the story, it can now be told, is a woman I've dubbed “Sacramento Victim No. 2” in previous articles. I've granted all of the women linked to Lang some degree of anonymity because their allegations against him—some of which he's now admitted to—aren't just of a financial nature, they're deeply personal.
I got off lightly compared to most of Lang's victims. I only got screwed out of several thousand dollars in a failed magazine start-up. I never had the pleasure of being intimate with the man.
Six of the seven women I've interviewed since learning of Lang's arrest last January met him through internet dating services. Sacramento Victim No. 2 is the exception. She met Lang in the spring of 2016, at her running club, where he came highly recommended by the club's president, a well known Sacramento advertising executive.
She liked Lang's positive attitude and after several dates invited him to move into her home with her two teenage daughters. What she didn't know was that Lang was carrying on a long-term relationship with a woman I've dubbed Sacramento Victim No. 1 and several other women at the same time. Lang was allegedly tapping all of them for money for an alleged cannabis business he was developing, as well as sleeping with most of them.
Victim No. 2 discovered something was amiss when a new credit card in the name of Victim No. 1 turned up in her mailbox in the fall of 2016. She recognized the name as that of a woman Lang claimed was his ex-girlfriend. Suspicions aroused, she contacted the woman, who like her lives in Folsom, 20 miles east of Sacramento. Realizing they'd been had, together they contacted the Folsom Police Department.
“I've asked myself, why was I put in this situation?” Victim No. 2 recently told me by telephone. “I believe I was put in this situation to stop Jeff Lang.”
The two women cooperated with a Folsom Police Department detective who ran a successful sting operation on Lang, who was promptly arrested and has remained behind bars ever since. They definitely stopped Lang, but not before he had bilked them out of tens of thousands of dollars which they may never see again.
Both women attended the Aug. 2 sentencing hearing and Victim No. 2 brought her two daughters as well. The foursome read statements describing the financial and emotion harm Lang had done to them as the accused stood by in a cage, silently facing the judge. One daughter claims Lang even shed some tears.
“I think my daughters really got to him,” Victim No. 2 told me.
Lang was ordered by the court to pay $56,500 in restitution to Victim No. 2, an amount that includes her entire retirement savings, which he obtained by illegally accessing her bank accounts. She's pleased with that decision, but no so happy that the judge granted Lang two days off his off of his two-and-a-half year sentence for every day he's served so far. The reward for good behavior netted Lang 420 days off his sentence. He's eligible for release, albeit under strict probation, next March.
“It was very disappointing, “ she said. “He won't even have served a year-and-a-half.”
That may be subject to change. While most of the women in the group that originally contacted me have declined to press charges against Lang, an alleged Sonoma County victim who claims Lang stole more than $5000 in credit card checks from her is pressing her case. She says the Sonoma County District Attorney's office has informed her it will prosecute Lang after Sacramento County releases him.
Whatever happens with jail time, Lang has lot of restitution to pay up. Victim No. 1's restitution is still being calculated, but estimated to be near $50,000. He's barely made a dent in the $160,000 he was ordered to pay in 2012 to the Humboldt County advertising executive whose business he destroyed. He will literally be paying for his crimes the rest of his life, assuming he can get back on his feet in the first place.
“I'm just glad it's done,” said Victim No. 2. “We went to every court hearing for seven months, I've been taking off work and missing out on my family.”
In the long run, she's satisfied with the verdict.
“I think he got the best we can do,” she said.