Gettysburg Attorney Charged Federally With Defrauding Clients Of Over $3 Million
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced the filing of an Information in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg today charging Wendy Weikal-Beauchat, age 46, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with wire fraud and money laundering.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Beauchat is charged with defrauding eight clients of more than $3,000,000 during the period from 2007 through 2013. Beauchat, an attorney, was a member of a law firm located in Gettysburg until February 2012. According to the law firm website, Beauchat’s area of concentration was estate planning and long-term care planning.
Beauchat allegedly misappropriated client funds to pay for her business and personal expenses.
It is charged that she concealed her fraudulent actions by providing clients with bogus Certificates of Deposit and IRS 1099 Interest Forms. The investigation is continuing in an effort to identify other clients who may have been victimized in Beauchat’s scheme.
The investigation is being conducted by Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and the FBI.
"The IRS enforces the nation's tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone, for their own personal benefit, has taken what belonged to others,” said Akeia Conner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. With both law enforcement and financial investigation expertise, our agents are uniquely qualified to assist with these types of cases by following the money. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to bring our forensic accounting skills to this joint venture and help put a stop to this and other types of white collar crime."
“When a lawyer, an officer of the court, defrauds clients, it’s a serious crime – and a heinous breach of trust,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko. “The FBI is committed to investigating financial schemes at every level, and working with our partners to hold white-collar crooks accountable.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J. Terz and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Sinnett, from the Adams County District Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed a plea agreement which must be approved by the District Court.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 30 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, a forfeiture and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.