Stateline woman convicted
A Stateline woman awaits sentencing Nov. 6, following a conviction in federal court for concealing a fugitive, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported Friday.
The jury only deliberated for an hour in U.S. District Court in Sacramento last week before it decided Terri Ann Galipeaux, 46, intentionally hid a Placerville man, wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on fraud and money laundering charges, in order that he could avoid arrest.
Galipeaux, who remains in custody, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Kenneth Fetterman, 33, faces a 16-count indictment for his role in participating in a ring of fraudulent bidding in hundreds of art auctions on eBay between November 1998 to June 2000. The FBI is still looking for him and have reported it is unsure of his whereabouts.
Fetterman and Galipeaux were living together when the two realized the FBI was on the hunt nearly six months ago. They consequently left their Tahoe apartment and rented motel rooms on the South Shore to avoid the authorities. They stayed at the Motel 6, El Nido, Washoe Motel, Star Lake Motel and Westerner Inn. Galipeaux booked under assumed names like “Becky White,” prosecutors contended.
Galipeaux was arrested alone by FBI agents in June at a truck stop in northern Yolo County, after the two had been on the run in Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.
In court testimony, a friend of hers told U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton that the South Shore woman’s motives revolved around her love for Fetterman.
The couple sought Debbie Noakes’ advice when they arranged a meeting at the Steamer’s Bar & Grill to conspire about their next move in March.
One month later, Fetterman’s co-conspirators, Sacramento attorney Kenneth Walton and Scott Beach of Lakewood, Colo., pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud counts relating to the eBay fraud scheme.
Upon capture, Fetterman faces the same fraud counts amounting to up to five years each in prison and a $250,000 fine. The six counts of money laundering carry a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars and a $500,000 penalty.
Walton and Beach had already admitted the three men created more than 40 user IDs on eBay using false registration information and then used aliases to place bogus bids in the sale of paintings on the Internet. The indictment alleges the total value of the winning bids in the auctions exceeded $450,000.
The tactic, referred to as shills, artificially inflates the value of the bids.
“A lot of online customers are taking a lesson in this case, and in other similar cases, as (the online services) try to tighten security,” FBI spokesman Nick Rossi said from his Sacramento office. “But Internet fraud continues to be a growing area.”
Rossi equates the type of scheme to telemarketing cons.
Taylor Creek Auctioneer George Alm of South Lake Tahoe, who avoids using shills, defended Internet auctions on eBay. Alm has many customers who buy items from his auctions and, in turn, sell them on eBay.
“It’s well known for being on the up and up. They’ll pull people off line if they find out about (fraud),” he said. “It’s not easy, but it does happen.”
Alm explained the attraction of buying on line as widespread, with one buyer nabbing a house for $125,000. The bidding started at $1.
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