coalvalleynews.com

Woman pleads guilty to embezzlement

Fred Pace fpace@civitasmedia.com

December 23, 2013

MADISON — A Connecticut woman has admitted her role in stealing over $800,000 from a local woman.


Margaret Sue Beam, 75, pleaded guilty in Boone County Circuit Court Wednesday to embezzlement by misuse of a power of attorney.


Earlier this year, Trooper E. B. McClung of the West Virginia State Police received a complaint from a 96-year-old Uneeda woman about the loss of money out of her checking account held at a local bank.


Upon investigating the matter, Trooper McClung discovered that Beam, the elderly woman’s niece, had squandered some $800,000 from two accounts as well as cashing in multiple savings bonds.


Trooper McClung determined that Beam was able to access the money by way of a power of attorney she held over the elderly woman.


As part of his investigation, McClung traveled to the State of Connecticut.


Once there, he found that Beam recently purchased a new home in an affluent neighborhood for over $700,000.


At her plea hearing Wednesday, Beam admitted to using the money for her own benefit, and that after purchasing the home, she obtained a reverse mortgage on the home for $500,000 that paid her monthly installments.


“Because of the greed of the defendant in this case, the elderly victim is left with minimal income and no savings” said Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph. “She is barely meeting her monthly obligations, and on top of that, social security has garnished her wages and the IRS is seeking back taxes. We are working with Congressman Rahall’s office to remedy both of those issues.”


Randolph commended the work of Trooper McClung and the good will of a neighbor, Helen Jacques.


“Without both of them, who knows what shape the victim would be in?” he said.


Beam will return to Boone County Circuit Court on March 19th. She faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.


* In other Boone County court news, a Bloomingrose man was found guilty last week for his role in the theft of a generator in 2012.


Robert Buzzard, 39, was convicted by a Boone County jury last Friday for the crimes of Conspiracy and Petit Larceny. He remains free on bond pending his sentencing hearing in January.


On July 1, 2012, Troopers G. S. Walter and E. B. McClung received a call from Frontier Communications personnel about the theft of an active generator at the mouth of Toney’s Branch in Bloomingrose.


The generator was servicing multiple households in the area following the derecho storm that knocked out power to the majority of the State last year.


The theft left many households in the area without telephone communication.


Through the course of their investigation, Troopers Walter and McClung identified two men as suspects in the case.


Jason Clay and Buzzard were eventually arrested for the theft. Clay pled guilty to destroying public utility company property in earlier this year.


In February, Clay was sentenced to one to three years in prison.


At the conclusion of Buzzard’s trial last week, a Boone County jury found him guilty to the felony of conspiring with Clay and the misdemeanor offense of petit larceny. The jury acquitted Buzzard of the offenses of breaking and entering, disruption of communication services and damage to a Public Utility Company property.


Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Anderson handled the case for the State.


“We appreciate the service of the jury in this case” said Anderson following the trial.


Buzzard will return to Court on January 15th to be sentenced. He faces up to six years in prison for the crimes.


* A Boone County woman was arrested after allegedly taking advantage of people who were under the impression they were helping her in a time of need.


Elizabeth Hampton, 53, of Uneeda is charged with fraudulent schemes. Boone deputies said she told workers at a local food bank that she was in desperate need of help for her and three small children she had taken in.


Her story touched the hearts of workers there and at the Boone County Courthouse, where they gathered up hundreds of dollars in food and toys to donate to her. But in reality, deputies said Hampton had no children and her story was a lie.


“It really played on their heart, so these people felt the need to take money out of their own pockets at this time of year to buy toys and money and food to take up to her,” Boone County Chief Deputy Chad Barker said. “She had no children there. It’s really just an unfortunate situation.”


Hampton was jailed on a $500 bond.