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Local interior decorator pleads guilty to fraud charges

May 30, 2012

St. Louis, MO - Kay Ottinger, owner of Well Appointed, Inc., pled guilty to over billing clients by inflating invoices causing them to overpay approximately $1,000,000.

According court documents, Kay T. Ottinger owned and operated Well Appointed, Inc., an interior decorating service in the St. Louis area. Ottinger sold design services for a fee and/or a commission. She worked with architects to create an interior design layout of a residence, and with landscape architects to determine proposed location and design of exterior portions of residential properties. She also purchased interior and exterior furniture, fixtures, accessories, drapes, flooring and wall coverings for residential properties. In return for her services, Ottinger received an agreed upon flat fee based on her actual cost, plus a commission percent based on her actual cost.

Ottinger admitted with her plea that she submitted itemized cost figures for her goods and services that were falsely inflated. In some instances she created fictitious invoices of "straw" companies to conceal the actual cost of goods and services. This scheme caused the clients/victims to overpay Ottinger approximately $1,000,000.

KAY T. OTTINGER, St. Louis, MO, pled guilty to three felony counts of mail fraud before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton. Sentencing has been set for August 27, 2012. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.

In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. First Assistant United States Attorney Michael W. Reap is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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