December 19, 2010 in City

Vancouver-area Jury rejects scam excuse

Man says he didn’t know his e-mail fraud was illegal
Laura Mcvicker (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian
 

A Vancouver man convicted in a money laundering scheme told a judge Friday that he was one of the victims in the case.

After falling prey to Nigerian scams, losing more than $80,000, Roddy K. Kartchner started his own money wiring schemes, although he told a jury he didn’t know they were actually illegal.

“The other person who lost a lot is me and my family,” he said. “The only thing that makes sense is to bring me home to my family.”

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Nichols clarified his assessment.

“There’s gullibility and there’s plausible deniability,” he said. “This is plausible deniability.”

The judge then ordered him to spend 43 months in prison.

“You did something wrong, Mr. Kartchner,” the judge added. “You did.”

Kartchner, 53, a real estate developer, was convicted Dec. 6 of 12 theft-related charges, including forgery, money laundering, identity theft and tampering with physical evidence. The panel of seven men and five women acquitted him of five other theft charges. Those charges related to allegations that he had co-conspirators wire stolen money to his credit card and sought unsecured loans from acquaintances that he didn’t repay.

Nichols decided on the low end of the sentencing range of 43 to 57 months in prison because of Kartchner’s lack of criminal history.

Kartchner’s Portland attorney, Adam Dean, told the judge it was a sad case that started when his client’s construction and real estate business was hurting in the recession and he was looking for ways to support his family.

At trial, jurors heard that Kartchner was trying to get rich fast and got caught up in Nigerian scams, which promise fabulous returns if you send a specific amount of money to the scammer. To make the requisite payments overseas, he had to solicit money from people with the promise of giving them substantial returns on his “winnings.”

His schemes took many forms, including depositing fraudulent checks and wiring money to other scammers all over the world. He was first arrested in February 2009 after trying to deposit a fraudulent $470,000 check from a man in the United Kingdom.

Kartchner also was convicted of being an accomplice in connection to another forged check for $80,000 that was deposited into his account.

Kartchner’s final convictions of tampering with physical evidence related to a taped jail conversation in which he was overheard telling his wife to hide briefcases.

Dean had argued at trial that his client believed the people giving him fraudulent checks and wiring money to his credit card were funding a legitimate business project.

Dean thought the jury partially believed the gullibility theory.

“I don’t think there was a wholesale rejection of Kartchner’s story,” he said.

Nichols said he thought the jury, with the facts presented, made the right decision on the case.

“You choose to use the gullibility as a shield,” Nichols said.


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