Three Toledo Residents Indicted for Forging Will to Fraudulently Obtain $2.2 Million
A 59-count federal indictment was unsealed today charging three Toledo residents for their roles in a conspiracy in which they are accused of forging a will to fraudulently gain control of an estate worth approximately $2.2 million, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Indicted are: Susan M. Pioch, 58; Margaret L. McKnight, 40, and Kurt L. Mallory, 51. They each face one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud, 21 counts of bank fraud, seven counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Pioch, McKnight and Mallory each face additional counts of money laundering. McKnight faces an additional count of structuring cash withdrawals, three tax counts and seven counts of causing a financial institution to fail to file a required report.
“This group lied, cheated and stole millions of dollars that had been amassed over a lifetime,” Dettelbach said.
“When you knowingly mix deceit and trickery into the financial well-being of individuals, you create a recipe for devastation that could last a lifetime,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
Martin E. Fewlas executed a will in 1993 devising his entire estate to his brother. If his brother did not survive Fewlas, the estate was to go to his nephew and then his great-nephew, identified in the indictment as JRM.
Fewlas owned the duplex located at 2557 Broadway Street in Toledo. He lived in the lower half and for approximately 10 years, McKnight and Mallory lived together in the upper half, according to the indictment.
Fewlas died on Aug. 28, 2010, leaving an estate worth approximately $2.2 million. On Sept. 2, 2010, McKnight, Mallory and Pioch – an attorney who had previously done legal work for McKnight and Mallory forged a will in Fewlas’ name. The forged will was drafted by Pioch and named McKnight as the executor and sole devisee of Fewlas’ assets. Pioch filed the forged will with the Lucas County Probate Court on or around Sept. 2, 2010. McKnight identified herself as executor of the estate and Pioch identified herself as attorney for the executor in probate court documents, according to the indictment.
By filing the forged will and concealing its fraudulent nature, Pioch, McKnight and Mallory succeeded in obtaining Probate Court authority to take possession of Fewlas’ assets. After obtaining those assets, they disbursed the assets to themselves for their own enrichment, according to the indictment.
Pioch, McKnight and Mallory used those assets to purchase, among other things, a used car dealership, a 2000 Discovery motorhome for $55,036, a classic 1972 Chevrolet El Camino for $17,000, a 2010 Kia Soul SUV for $21,338, as well as property. They also withdrew more than $500,000 in cash for Fewlas’ estate proceeds, according to the indictment.
JRM, Fewlas’ great nephew and the sole remaining devisee from the 1993 will, received nothing, according to the indictment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gene Crawford and James V. Moroney following an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations and the Toledo Police Department.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.