Neither Atkins’ order nor the government’s motion for seeking the protection offers a reason for the order, which is similar to an order issued in the vote-buying case against former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and five others earlier this year. In that case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor noted in court that the order was sought in that case because there were concerns about retaliation against the witnesses.
Charles Ray Tackett, Michael Ray Tackett, Lou Teresa Tackett and Anna Grace McGuire were indicted last month, each charged with a single count of wire fraud conspiracy. In addition, Charles Tackett, Michael Tackett and McGuire each face three counts of wire fraud.
According to the indictment, the four were engaged in a conspiracy to collect payouts for cars that were worth far less than claimed on their insurance policies.
“To carry out this scheme, members of the conspiracy obtained or attempted to obtain insurance on antique or classic vehicles, each under the fraudulent pretense that the vehicles had been fully restored by Harold Auto Body and were worth significantly more than their actual value,” the indictment alleges. “In reality, the vehicles had not been restored by Harold Auto Body. After the vehicles were destroyed in fires, members of the conspiracy sought to collect money for the loss of the vehicles from the insurance carriers.”
Charles Tackett is alleged to have been the registered owner of a 1971 Cadillac Deville and a 1972 Oldsmobile which were destroyed in a Dec. 5, 2009, garage fire. Prior to their destruction, he insured the vehicles based on full restoration estimates from Harold Auto Body totalling $65,200. No work was performed on either vehicle.
Lou Tackett is alleged to have been the registered owner of a 1987 Ford F-150, which she insured based on an full restoration estimate of $33,800. Lou Tackett then sold the vehicle to McGuire, who also allegedly owned a 1978 Monte Carlo and 1979 Trans Am, which she insured based on estimates totalling $65,650. Despite the nearly $100,000 in estimates, the indictment alleges that the only work performed on any of the vehicles was a repair on the Trans Am’s fender, totalling $150. All three vehicles were destroyed in a house fire May 16, 2010.Michael Tackett is alleged to have been the registered owner of a 1972 Chevelle, a 1980 Triumph Spitfire and a 1980 Firebird. Those vehicles were insured based on estimates totalling $117,300, but no work was performed on any of the vehicles. Those three vehicles were destroyed in a July 28, 2010, fire.
The conspiracy charge results from four allegedly planning and carrying out the scheme. The wire fraud charges against Charles Tackett, Michael Tackett and McGuire are the result of telephone calls the three allegedly made to the insurance companies.If convicted, each charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, as well as restitution, if applicable.On Nov. 14, U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins set a Jan. 20 trial date for the four. Atkins’ orders indicate the trial is expected to last five days.
All four have been released pending their trials.