Long-time Bethesda Fraudster Sentenced to Prison

Despite Repeated Convictions Since 1964 for Passing Bad Checks and Fraudulently Obtaining Merchandise, Defendant Continued to Obtain Merchandise Without Payment

September 15, 2009

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Lisa R. Popeck, age 76, of Bethesda, Maryland, today to 34 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for fraud arising from obtaining between $120,000 and $200,000 of merchandise and services knowing that she did not have money for payment, and then concealing assets from the bankruptcy court, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Messitte also ordered Popeck: to pay restitution of $21,488.50, and to forfeit furniture and other fraudulently obtained property. The restitution figure included offsets for property returned to victims since the defendant’s guilty plea.

According to her guilty plea, Popeck had a history of criminal convictions and civil judgments from 1964 to 2006, relating to bad checks and fraud. From a time unknown until February 2009, Popeck ordered between $120,000 and $200,000 of goods and services from businesses and individuals despite knowing that she lacked the necessary funds for payment; repeatedly provided dishonored checks, backed by insufficient funds or worthless credit cards; fled from stores without paying; and often retained the goods even after civil liens and judgments were filed against her. For example, Popeck ordered and obtained without payment: a sofa, table and chair worth $13,808; and a custom-made ash table worth $55,000. She failed to return the items even after the vendors obtained judgments against her.

Popeck filed for bankruptcy in January 2008. She failed to disclose to the bankruptcy court numerous assets. At a bankruptcy hearing where she was questioned under oath, she falsely claimed that she did not own a watch and was not wearing a watch. The bankruptcy trustee, however, determined that she was wearing a diamond-encrusted Cartier watch which he seized, and was later determined to be valued at $5,000. Popeck also attempted to hide a diamond ring by dropping the ring on the floor under her chair. She also acknowledged the purchase of the $55,000 table, despite the figure of $2,000 that she listed in her bankruptcy filing. After the hearing, the bankruptcy trustee and others drove to Popeck’s residence where they found the $55,000 table and other items not disclosed to the bankruptcy court, including large original paintings, dozens of pieces of artwork, sterling silver and expensive electronic equipment and furniture.

Finally, while the bankruptcy proceedings was still pending, Popeck fraudulently obtained additional merchandise without payment, including jewelry worth $5,525, sconces worth $4,800; and furniture worth $2,600.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Secret Service - Washington Field Office and the U.S. Trustees Office for their investigative work and commended Assistant United States Attorneys Stuart A. Berman and Christen A. Sproule, who prosecuted the case.



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