A Richmond man who was already serving a five-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Stafford County got seven additional years Wednesday for federal fraud convictions.

John Baron Royal, 51, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Alexandria for his role in an Autotrader fraud scheme in which victims were bilked out of more than $575,000, court records show.

Royal’s long journey through the Stafford court system included a jury trial in May 2018 in which a jury recommended that he serve 35 years in prison. The teenage victim is the daughter of a woman Royal met on an online dating site.

The evidence showed that Royal had sexual contact with the girl after giving her alcoholic drinks. The girl, who was 16 at the time, said she blacked out while drinking and was unable to resist his advances. Royal claimed that the sexual contact was consensual.

Royal ended up getting a new trial and the convictions were overturned. He pleaded guilty to charges in November and this time was ordered to serve five years in prison.

The federal charges stem from a scam Royal headed between April and November of 2015 in which he advertised high-end luxury vehicles for sale on Autotrader.com. Court documents state that he used aliases to advertise the vehicles and to collect money from his victims.

In one case, a buyer made $56,000 in down payments for six Ford Mustangs, a Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz. After receiving phony paperwork indicating that the cars had been shipped, the victim sent another $166,000 to finalize the payments.

Court records said Royal owned none of the vehicles he claimed to be selling and opened bank accounts under shell entities to receive the victims’ money.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404


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