LYNCHBURG, Va. – A former Lynchburg attorney faces up to 30 years in federal prison for allegedly stealing money from clients and using it to “enrich herself” through charitable donations and real estate purchases, authorities said.
A federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Roanoke indicted 44-year-old Cherie Anne Washburn on fraud and false statement charges, acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar announced Monday.
Here’s a breakdown of Washburn’s charges:
- Federal wire fraud (Ten counts)
- Mail fraud (one count)
- Making a false statement to a mortgage lender (Two counts)
Washburn specialized in elder law and estate planning. Court documents show that from about 2015-2018, Washburn engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from two clients, identified in court documents as “C.A. and D.F.”
Bubar said Washburn used the money to “enrich herself." She allegedly made donations to charities and bought real estate, including a house in Lynchburg.
Through her work with clients C.A. and D.F., Washburn entered Power of Attorney agreements with both victims, according to Bubar. He said Washburn’s POA status meant she was entitled to “reasonable compensation and reimbursement for reasonable expenses for services rendered,” however, she couldn’t use their personal property for financial gain.
Washburn allegedly wrote checks from C.A. and D.F.'s accounts to herself, ranging from $4,200 to $40,000, according to the indictment. Washburn also allegedly tried to make herself the beneficiary of two of C.A.'s investment accounts that had a combined value of $288,000.
Without the consent of C.A. and D.F., Washburn allegedly donated to charities throughout 2017 using money she fraudulently obtained, according to the indictment. In 2018 she also allegedly purchased a home in Lynchburg using money from C.A. and a mortgage lander. The home was valued at around $219,000, according to the indictment.
Washburn allegedly lied and said that C.A. had gifted her $40,000 to buy the home. In a letter to Quicken Loans explaining this fake “gift,” Washburn also allegedly stated that C.A. was Washburn’s great-aunt, according to the indictment. The next day, according to Bubar, Washburn deposited $45,000 into her bank account from C.A.'s account.
Washburn could face 30 years in federal prison.
The Lynchburg City Police Department collaborated with the FBI on the investigation of this case.