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Case Number: 1:21-cr-00163
Judge: Jennifer L. Thurston
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (Frenso County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Fresno
Description: Fresno, California criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with wire fraud.
Jeffrey Todd Stewart. age 57, from Bakerfield, California, was employed as a certified public accountant in Bakersfield. Between September 2014 and June 2018, Stewart solicited and received over $2 million from investors to pay fees and expenses purportedly needed for an overseas business deal. Stewart represented to the investors that their investments were being used for the deal and promised significant returns. Although Stewart used most of the money for the purported deal, he spent $355,000 of the money obtained from the investors on his own personal expenses, including mortgage payments, trips to Las Vegas, and gambling.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Barton and Brittany Gunter are prosecuting the case.
Stewart is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on Aug. 21, 2023. Stewart faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
18 U.S.C. 1343 - Wire Fraud
"Wire fraud is a federal crime that occurs when someone uses electronic communication to defraud another person or entity. This can include using email, phone calls, text messages, or social media. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
To be convicted of wire fraud, the government must prove that the defendant:
Defrauded another person or entity
Used electronic communication to carry out the fraud
Intended to defraud the victim
The fraud occurred in interstate or foreign commerce
Some common examples of wire fraud include:
Phishing scams: Phishing scams are emails that appear to be from legitimate companies, but are actually from scammers trying to steal your personal information.
Investment fraud: Investment fraud is when someone promises you high returns on your investment, but then takes your money and runs.
Romance scams: Romance scams are when someone pretends to be interested in you romantically, but is actually just trying to steal your money.
If you think you may have been a victim of wire fraud, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC can help you file a complaint and may be able to recover some of your losses.
You should also be aware of the following tips to help protect yourself from wire fraud:
Never give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, to someone you don't know and trust.
Be suspicious of emails that ask for personal information or that ask you to click on a link.
Do your research before investing in anything.
Be careful about who you give your heart to online.
If you have any questions about wire fraud, you should contact an attorney.
Here are some additional information about wire fraud:
Wire fraud is a federal crime under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1343.
The statute defines wire fraud as "whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."
The statute also provides that "the term 'wire communication' means any communication made in whole or in part through the use of a wire, cable, or other like connection involving the transmission of information by electromagnetic means."
This includes, but is not limited to, telephone calls, emails, text messages, and instant messages.
Wire fraud is a serious crime that can result in significant penalties. If you are convicted of wire fraud, you could face up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
You could also be ordered to pay restitution to your victims.
If you are accused of wire fraud, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and protect your rights."
Outcome: Defendant pled guilty.