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Virginia news anchor sentenced for role in fraud case

You don't have to physically commit a crime to be charged with something. Knowing about a crime without reporting it or aiding in a crime in anyway can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. For a Virginia news anchor, romantic involvement with someone accused of fraud and theft crimes resulted in court ordered restitution.

According to reports, the woman dated a man who was part of a fraud ring that spanned international borders. Investigators say the man and his conspirators promised individuals they would recover overseas assets that were lost and stolen. Instead of working to recover money for individuals, the group continued charging fees.

Prosecutors say the man used the Virginia news anchor's accounts to funnel more than $500,000 related to the conspiracy. According to defense counsel, the woman was unaware of the criminal activities and is also a victim of her ex-boyfriend. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on a sentence of $10,000 in restitution to seven victims of the fraud and 200 hours of community service.

The woman was also charged with filing a false tax return and sentenced to probation. According to records, the woman claimed expenses related to a hot tub in 2011, which resulted in an incorrectly high health care deduction. Reports state that the expenses weren't allowed because they were purchased with her mother's credit cards.

Counsel for the news anchor say she's glad the case is over. During the case, she was supported by her husband and at least one of her previous coworkers. An anchor with the woman's former station wrote a letter of support to the court stating that the woman was a kind person who cared about the community.

Involvement in a crime at any level can result in serious consequences. Providing details about mitigating circumstances, a clean criminal history and letters of support are all valid parts of criminal defense in some cases.

Source:  The Daily Press, "Bickford sentenced to probation, ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution" Peter Dujardin, May. 06, 2014

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