Former Baltimore Accountant Wilkins McNair Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Steal Nearly $1 Million from a Client
Defendant Stole From New Victim While Awaiting Trial on Other Fraud Charges
Baltimore, Maryland - Wilkins McNair, age 52, formerly of Ellicott City, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and witness tampering in connection with a scheme to defraud a client of $950,000.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The evidence shows that Wilkins McNair was a serial con artist,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “While awaiting trial on serious federal fraud charges, he found a new vulnerable victim and stole almost $1 million dollars from her.”
According to court documents, McNair was a certified public accountant, and owned and operated an accounting firm known at different times as Wilkins McNair, CPA, P.C.; Wilkins McNair LLC; or The Accounting Offices of Wilkins McNair, LLC. The firm initially had offices at 201 North Charles Street in Baltimore and later operated out of McNair’s residence in Ellicott City.
McNair admitted that on January 24, 2006, he was retained by a widow whose husband, a general contractor who owned his own business, had recently died. The widow had no business, financial or real estate experience, and she retained McNair to assist her in wrapping up the affairs of her husband’s business, probating his estate, and managing the assets of the family trust she had established with his life insurance proceeds. From January 30, 2006 to March 7, 2006, the widow transferred $367,546.32 she had previously received from life insurance payments and as proceeds of a real estate closing to McNair. McNair advised the widow that he would establish a trust fund with the money and she could draw upon the trust when she needed money to pay for family expenses. In the summer of 2006, McNair further persuaded the widow to refinance her residence to take out a mortgage of $576,000 and a second mortgage of $72,000, advising the widow that he would use the proceeds to make the payments on those loans. McNair received the proceeds of $552,764.67 from these transactions, after he told the widow that he would deposit them into a bank account to be held and managed for her. Finally, McNair received the proceeds from the sale of assets belonging to the estate of the widow’s late husband, totaling approximately $114,601.
McNair further admitted that, as alleged in the indictment, McNair deposited all of the funds into accounts which he controlled and used the money to pay salary and other expenses at his accounting firm, for the financial support of a woman with whom he was romantically involved, to pay some of his legal expenses for a then-pending criminal case, and for other personal expenses. On several occasions, including as late as April 23, 2007, McNair provided the widow with purported statements of her account showing that he was holding the funds for her, but despite subsequent demands from the widow and her attorney, McNair failed to return or further account for any of the funds he received from the widow or her husband’s estate.
McNair also admitted that he misled the widow in connection with federal criminal fraud charges he was facing at the time, by providing her with false assurances of his innocence and fraudulent account statements as to the status of her funds, in an effort to prevent her from testifying in the grand jury and to prevent information relating to his alleged fraud against the widow from being communicated to law enforcement in connection with his pending sentencing in the other case.
As part of the plea, the government is seeking the forfeiture of approximately $950,000, which are the proceeds of the scheme.
McNair faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud and a maximum of 20 years in prison for witness tampering. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has asked the parties to file a status report concerning possible sentencing dates by March 5, 2010.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Jefferson M. Gray and Jonathan Biran, who are prosecuting the case.