Estep to pay $80K restitution

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After his wife was sentenced in February to one to 10 years in jail for embezzlement, David Estep faced the same fate Wednesday during a sentencing hearing in Marshall County Circuit Court.

Estep, 48, pleaded guilty to embezzlement by misuse of a fiduciary relationship in September. His sentencing was delayed until Wednesday, however, to allow his wife, Melissa Estep, 45, of Moundsville to be sentenced on similar embezzlement charges. She was sentenced in February by Marshall County Circuit Judge Mark A. Karl to one to 10 years in prison and was ordered to repay $80,000 she and David embezzled from the estate of Mary Catherine Lynch.

According to the criminal complaint, Lynch died in September 2007. Prior to Lynch’s death, Melissa and David Estep, the grandson of Lynch, had been living in an apartment behind Lynch’s home and served as caregivers for her. Following Lynch’s death, Melissa Estep was named the executrix of the estate, making her responsible for getting all of Lynch’s personal assets and property appraised. Following that appraisal and the payment of any outstanding bills, the remainder was set to be distributed to the heirs of the estate.

The estate was appraised at $361,916.03, though records indicate Melissa Estep deposited $126,455.38 into a special estate bank account. Over the next year, Melissa Estep wrote 169 checks from the account payable to her husband, David, totalling $108,690, which were signed and cashed by David. Additionally, over a sixth-month period ending in May 2008, $6,515.42 was withdrawn from the account via debit and checks written to “cash.”

According to the appraisal, David Estep would have been entitled to only $45,587.40 from the estate. According to the criminal complaint, Melissa and David Estep withdrew more than $80,000 more than they were entitled to. Ten other heirs to the estate did not receive any of the money they were owed.

As part of the plea agreement submitted Wednesday, Estep will be eligible for early release after serving 10 months of his one- to 10-year sentence.

Following his release, he will be placed on one year of supervised probation and must pay restitution of $80,000 as well as attorney fees and court costs. He must also execute a deed for the property. He will report to the Northern Correctional Facility on April 20, giving him two weeks to handle paperwork regarding that deed and clean the property.

Attribution:

Estep to Pay $80K Restitution
J.W. Johnson, Jr.
April 7, 2011
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/553863/Estep-to-Pay–80K-Restitution.html?nav=510

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