Brian Koechner, a 2001 Platte County High School graduate, recently received the Guardian of Justice Award from the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Office. A forensic accountant for the FBI, Koechner, 32, was honored along with Independence (Mo.) Police Department detective Allison Verman and FBI special agent Kacie Laidecker during the 13th annual LECC training seminar Thursday, Aug. 13 in Springfield, Mo. Koechner and Laidecker worked on the same case, which resulted in a conviction of elder fraud for a Lenexa, Kan. woman.
The annual Guardian of Justice Award recognizes state and local officers as well as federal agents for investigative excellence, selfless collaboration, tireless trial support, commendable diligence and professionalism and noteworthy assistance to prosecution. The prestigious law enforcement award is presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office each year during the law enforcement training conference.
Laidacker and Koechner not only assisted in the successful prosecution of Linda Scaife, 72, of Lenexa, Kan. but were able to seize significant funds from her bank accounts to pay restitution to family members.
According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release, Erma Giaccetti became a victim of Scaife’s fraud scheme shortly after Giaccetti celebrated her 84th birthday. Scaife isolated Giaccetti from her family during the next three years, stealing most of her life savings, selling Giaccetti’s home and moving her into a nursing home where she died at the age of 87.
Before Giaccetti’s death, Scaife had her revoke her living trust and execute a new will naming Scaife as the new personal representative. She obtained power of attorney and medical power of attorney, as well.
Scaife forbid the nursing home from allowing any family visits and liquidated Giaccetti’s bank accounts, insurance policies, IRAs and CDs. The liquidated funds were transferred into joint bank accounts Scaife opened.
At the time of her death, Giaccetti’s estate should have held $348,608 to pass on to her five grandchildren. As a result of Scaife’s fraud scheme, however, Giaccetti was never able to say goodbye to her family and was unable to leave them any inheritance.
In tracking and analyzing the money trail, Laidacker and Koechner discovered that Scaife had two bank accounts that held approximately $100,000. They also realized that the account balances were dwindling lower and lower with each passing month. They quickly focused on grabbing and preserving the money held in Scaife’s bank accounts and worked to navigate through several factual and legal hurdles to seize the money.
In April 2013, Laidecker and Koechner obtained a seizure order from the court.
Ten months later, Scaife pleaded guilty to the interstate transportation of stolen property and agreed to forfeit the funds seized by the FBI. More than $81,000 was recovered to pay the restitution owed to Giaccetti’s five grandchildren.
In December 2014, Scaife was sentenced to 46 months imprisonment, which was the toughest penalty under the federal sentencing guidelines.
Giaccetti’s grandchildren are all young adults, and the last years of Giaccetti’s life were filled with confusion, bitterness and frustration. Having the court declare that Giaccetti was victimized by Scaife, and that the grandchildren are entitled to receive money seized from Scaife’s bank accounts as part of their inheritance, is providing healing for the family, according to the release.