OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JOHN F. WOOD
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
FEBRUARY 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
INDICTMENT ADDS ANOTHER CHARGE AGAINST
KANSAS WOMAN, LEE’S SUMMIT MAN
FOR STAGING ASSAULT
WOMEN STAGED ATTACK IN ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE
SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Bucyrus, Kan., woman and a Lee’s Summit, Mo., man were indicted by a federal grand jury today for their roles in a wire fraud conspiracy related to a scheme between two women who hired the man to assault them. The women were allegedly hoping to force a higher settlement of their sexual harassment lawsuit against a former employer.
Julie R. Bernet, 39, of Bucyrus, and Gordon F. Reabe, Jr., 51, of Lee’s Summit, were charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Bernet and Reabe on Jan. 21, 2009. In addition to the original wire fraud charge, today’s indictment also charges Bernet and Reabe with conspiracy to defraud Bernet’s former employer.
The federal indictment alleges that Bernet and Lindsey D. Crawford, 23, of Kansas City, Mo. (who is not charged in the indictment), hired Reabe to stage an attack. They offered to pay Reabe $100,000 to physically assault both of them, the indictment says, and to sexually assault Crawford. When Reabe carried out the attack, assaulting the women as planned in Crawford’s garage, they allegedly filed a fraudulent report with the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.
Bernet and Crawford staged the attack in order to force a higher settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit, the indictment alleges. Bernet and Crawford filed a civil lawsuit against former employer Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City as well as Soave Automotive Group, Inc. (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City), T.E.N. Investments, Inc., and Soave Enterprises, L.L.C., in Jackson County Circuit Court on March 10, 2008, citing gender discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation. According to the indictment, they were displeased with a settlement offer made to them by the victim companies. By fraudulently staging the assaults, then linking the assaults to the victim companies, Bernet and Crawford allegedly hoped that the settlement value or potential damages awarded by a jury in the sexual harassment lawsuit would substantially increase. Bernet and Crawford allegedly planned to compensate Reabe for his role in the scheme by paying him part of the money fraudulently obtained from the victim companies.
According to the indictment, the staged assault occurred in a garage at Crawford’s residence on Nov. 25, 2008. Bernet allegedly reported to law enforcement authorities that she and Crawford had been assaulted by “two unknown masked men.” As a result of the false claims of Bernet and Crawford, law enforcement authorities spent a substantial amount of time and money investigating the nonexistent crime.
Bernet allegedly met with Reabe on Dec. 12, 2008, at Toby Keith’s Bar in Harrah’s Casino to discuss a plan to connect the staged assault to the victim companies. Bernet and Reabe agreed on a plan to have someone call Bernet from Aristocrat Motors (where Mercedes-Benz of Kansas city is located); she would then call the police to make a false report that her life had been threatened. The purpose of the false report, the indictment says, would be to redirect the criminal investigation and to link the assault to the parties of the sexual harassment lawsuit.
Reabe allegedly offered to pay an acquaintance $20,000 to go to Aristocrat Motors on Dec. 13, 2008, and make a phone call from an Aristocrat Motors phone to Bernet’s cell phone. Bernet then called a Kansas City police officer, according to the indictment, and falsely claimed that her life had been threatened in a telephone call from an unknown male.
The wire fraud charge in today’s indictment is related to the interstate telephone call that Bernet allegedly made from her home in Kansas to the police officer in Missouri in furtherance of the scheme to defraud Mercedes Benz of Kansas City, the Soave Automotive Group, T.E.N. Investments and Soave Enterprises, LLC.
Wood cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt J. Whitworth and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Mahoney. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at