LYNCHBURG, Va. – A federal grand jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Roanoke indicted Cherie Anne Washburn, a former attorney who specialized in elder law and estate planning, on federal wire fraud, mail fraud, and false statement charges. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today following the defendant’s initial court appearance.
Washburn, 44, of Lynchburg, Va., is charged with ten counts of wire fraud, two counts of making a false statement to a mortgage lender, and one count of mail fraud. If convicted, Washburn faces up to 30 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, from around 2015 and continuing until 2018, Washburn engaged in a scheme to defraud and obtain money or property by fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises from elder victims C.A. and D.F. Washburn is alleged to have used the ill-gotten monies to enrich herself, including purchasing real estate and making donations to charities.
In 2015 and 2016, a senior care management service company referred victims C.A. and D.F. to Washburn for the purpose of obtaining elder legal services. Washburn subsequently entered separate Power of Attorney (POA) agreement with both victims. Under the terms of both POAs, Washburn was entitled to reasonable compensation and reimbursement for reasonable expenses for services rendered but could not use the personal property of the client to benefit the attorney.
The indictment alleges that despite the agreement, Washburn wrote multiple checks from victim C.A. and victim D.F.’s accounts to herself for personal benefit. These checks ranged in value from $4,200 to $40,000.
Additionally, the indictment alleges that in 2017, Washburn attempted to improperly make herself the beneficiary of two investment accounts held by C.A.. At the time, these accounts had a combined approximate value of $288,000.
Throughout 2017, the indictment alleges that Washburn made charitable donations using money fraudulently obtained from victims C.A. and D.F. These donations were made without the consent of the victims.
In or around March 2018, the indictment alleges, Washburn purchased a residence in Lynchburg, Va., for approximately $219,000 using monies belonging to victim C.A. and a mortgage lender. In order to complete the purchase, on or about April 22, 2018, Washburn submitted a letter to Quicken Loans falsely stating that victim C.A. provided Washburn with a gift of $40,000 for the purchase of 111 Wyndsong Place. The gift letter also falsely stated that victim C.A. was Washburn’s great-aunt. The next day Washburn deposited $45,000 from victim C.A.’s SunTrust Account to Washburn’s Wells Fargo account.
The investigation of the case was conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lynchburg City Police Department. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Baudinet, and Special Assistant United States Attorney and Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Lynchburg Bethany Harrison are prosecuting the case for the United States.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.