OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
Sharon L. Potter
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Fawn E. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist
July 9, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Two Grafton Residents Indicted on Charges
Related to Extortion and Wire Fraud
CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA — Two Grafton, West Virginia, residents were named in an Indictment returned on July 7, 2009, by a Federal Grand Jury sitting in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
United States Attorney Sharon L. Potter announced that ERIC WAYNE ZUSPAN, age 53, and TERI ELAINE TRICKETT, also known as TERI ELAINE ZUSPAN, age 52, were named in an eight-count Indictment. Count One of the Indictment alleges that ZUSPAN and TRICKETT conspired together to commit extortion and wire fraud beginning on March 23, 2009, and continuing through May 7, 2009, in Fairmont. The Indictment further alleges that it was part of the conspiracy for TRICKETT and ZUSPAN, a married couple, to extort money from a woman in their care (hereinafter referred to as the “victim”) by convincing the victim that TRICKETT, the victim’s primary caregiver, had been kidnapped and that the purported kidnappers were demanding $20,000 in ransom money; and further that TRICKETT and ZUSPAN attempted to convince the victim that the kidnappers were connected to the alleged murder of the victims’ father.
Counts Two through Four of the Indictment allege that ZUSPAN and TRICKETT devised a scheme to defraud the victim and to obtain money by false and fraudulent pretenses from January 23, 2009, to June 19, 2009, by developing a trust relationship with the victim by providing in-home care services to the victim. As a result of their scheme, ZUSPAN and TRICKETT caused total losses exceeding $20,000 to the victim.
Count Five of the Indictment alleges that TRICKETT made a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on March 24, 2009, by telling the FBI that she had been kidnapped on March 23, 2009, when TRICKETT knew no such kidnapping had occurred.
Counts Six and Seven of the Indictment allege that ZUSPAN made false statements to the FBI on March 25, 2009, and on April 13, 2009, by telling the FBI that his wife, TERI ELAINE TRICKETT, had been kidnapped on March 23, 2009, when he knew no such kidnapping had occurred.
Count Eight of the Indictment alleges that ZUSPAN, having previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, knowingly possessed a firearm and ammunition on June 19, 2009, which had been shipped in interstate commerce.
The Indictment also carries a forfeiture allegation wherein the United States seeks to forfeit a money judgment in the amount of at least $26,550.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on Counts One, Five, Six, and Seven of the Indictment; a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on Counts Two, Three, and Four of the Indictment; and a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on Count Eight of the Indictment.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew R. Cogar. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It should be noted that the charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and not evidence of guilt, and that each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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