Fugitives sought by federal authorities
Federal authorities are seeking the whereabouts of possibly “the first shill bidding” suspects in the nation, Terri Galipeaux, 45, of Stateline and Kenneth Fetterman, 33, of Placerville.
On March 8, a U.S. magistrate judge issued an arrest warrant for Fetterman on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in response to a 16-count indictment. Kenneth Walton, 33, of Sacramento and Scott Beach, 31, of Lakewood, Colo. were also named the indictment.
Fetterman, Walton and Beach were allegedly conspirators in an eBay scam in which Fetterman auctioned off replicas of masterpiece artwork as originals. Walton and Beach posted shill bids in an attempt to drive up the prices.
The three accused conducted hundreds of illegitimate auctions between November 1998 and May 2000, with winning bids as high as $135,805, according to a criminal complaint filed by the an Internal Revenue Service agent.
“As far as we are aware it is the first shill bidding case that has been charged in the country,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney Chris Sonderby. “The involved parties created 50-plus bogus aliases and used those to inflate the prices.”
Walton and Beach turned themselves in to authorities shortly after warrants were issued. They pleaded guilty to several counts of mail and wire fraud as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
“We believe those guilty pleas sent the message that shill bidding is not a game,” Sonderby said. “It is a felony.”
Fetterman was living with Galipeaux on the 100 block of Tramway in Stateline when the warrants were issued. According to Galipeaux’s daughter, sometime around March 10 Fetterman was dropped off at the bus station in South Lake Tahoe to go to Sacramento and turn himself in to federal authorities. A few hours later, Fetterman reportedly called Galipeaux from a South Lake Tahoe bar and said he changed his mind. Galipeaux allegedly began aiding in Fetterman’s flight from the law. She is wanted for the concealment of Fetterman from federal authorities. A warrant was issued for her arrest May 13.
“Fetterman is still a fugitive and this month last week we charged Terri Lee Galipeaux with a complaint of harboring a fugitive from arrest,” Sonderby said.
Authorities said they believe Galipeaux and Fetterman stayed in numerous hotels in South Lake Tahoe and Minden during the middle of March registering under aliases. There is evidence that the couple stayed at the Motel 6, the Starlake Motel, and the Washoe Motel, all in South Lake Tahoe. They also allegedly stayed at the Westerner Motel in Minden. Authorities believe that Galipeaux is registering under aliases, including Becky White.
The couple was last seen by Galipeaux’s daughter in late March. Their whereabouts are unknown.
FBI officials believe Fetterman may have grown a beard that is reddish in color. Galipeaux has dark brown hair, and may be walking with crutches as a result of a knee surgery March 20. Federal agents say the fugitives may be using hair coloration or other means of concealing their true identities.
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