GREENEVILLE — Three Elizabethton residents, Stephanie Anne Bare, David Michael Bare and Kendra Lynae Walker, have pleaded guilty to their roles in what the United States Attorney’s Office called “an elaborate fake inheritance scheme which bilked family, friends and business associates in Carter County of more than $500,000. Many of the wire fraud victims were elderly and especially vulnerable.”
On Monday, David Bare, 53, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud and was sentenced by Judge Ronnie Greer to serve 37 months in prison and three years supervised release. Additionally, he was ordered to pay $511,513 in restitution to the victims of the wire fraud scheme; $41,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and $200 in special assessments.
Also on Monday, Walker pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting wire fraud and was sentenced to serve five years on probation and perform 150 hours of community service. Additionally, she was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the victims and $100 in special assessments.
On Jan. 3, Greer sentenced Stephanie Bare to serve 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition, she was ordered to pay $511,513 in restitution to the victims and $42,000 to the IRS and $100 in special assessments.
According to the indictment, the three were involved in a scheme in which Walker and Mr. Bare aided and abetted Mrs. Bare as they used email, telephone calls and money transfers over a period from Jan. 1, 2005, until Feb. 28, 2010. These resulted in 45 counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting wire fraud.
The indictment indicated the purpose of the scheme was to obtain money and property from individuals by falsely claiming that they were experiencing personal financial difficulties that required emergency funds and by claiming they had received a large inheritance that was frozen by the Internal Revenue Service and claiming the inheritance could be released by paying the tax liens.
There were several other schemes described in the indictment, including seeking help in adopting a child and another in which they claimed to be destitute.
In some of the schemes, Walker allegedly posed as an IRS officer to verify schemes of Stephanie Bare about liens being held on fictitious property. Walker also allegedly pretended to be associated with an attorney in another scheme.
In the sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith recommended no prison sentence for Walker. Smith wrote that Walker “has expressed genuine remorse for her conduct and acknowledged and renounced her offensive behavior as well as her relationship with Stephanie Bare. This behavior has caused serious consequences on her: she has lost a job in a tough economic environment; she has damaged her marriage; and she has reduced her status in the community.”
Smith said Walker was “a very low risk reoffender. She is before the court because she made a series of very poor decisions, chiefly her decision to associate with Stephanie Bare.”
Smith said the Bares have “absolutely nothing left to show for the vast sums of money...legitimately received from his family’s estates or from the $511,513 they stole from their fraud victims. They pursued an extremely extravagant (almost fantastical) lifestyle while involved in elaborate trips to New York City and gambling casinos.”
Smith said Mrs. Bare had “very little record of legitimate gainful employment and possesses no marketable job skills. She has relied on her deceit and her family to provide her livelihood. Her major life activity is fraud.”
Smith said Mr. Bare was a willing accomplice who drove his wife to her victim meetings and dissipated his son’s legacy, which he held in trust. That legacy was the genesis for the wire fraud scheme. Smith said “he has relied upon the deceit of his family to provide his livelihood.” She also noted that the presentencing report indicated he relied upon the sale of blood plasma by the minor child who lives with his family to pay family living expenses.
Smith said neither of the Bares expressed remorse and had “a remarkable lack of respect for the rule of law, extremely poor judgment, no concern for the fraud victims, and a sense of entitlement to the funds...fraudulently obtained.”
U.S. Attorney William Killian said, “This scheme harmed vulnerable individuals and devastated their lives, as well as violated federal law, meriting special attention by federal law enforcement officers. The Bares continued their scheme even after the IRS special agent advised them to cease and desist. The United States will always prosecute cases such as these.”