June 19, 2018
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Westbrook woman pleads guilty to cashing out ex-husband’s IRAs

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — A Westbrook woman waived indictment Tuesday and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to wire fraud and identity theft.

Martha Collins, 44, admitted that she fraudulently obtained about $29,000 from her ex-husband’s retirement account after he refused her request for a $15,000 loan, according to the prosecution version of events to which she pleaded guilty.

In early July 2010, Collins asked her ex-husband, identified in court documents by his initials, for the loan. He told her that he could not give her that much money, according to the prosecution version.

He proposed that she sell her motorcycle and cash out her Individual Retirement Account. He offered to give her the difference between that sum and the $15,000 Collins said she needed, according to court documents. Collins declined that offer.

Instead, she called a Massachusetts investment management firm where her ex-husband had his retirement accounts, according to the prosecution version of events. When the company told Collins she could not close out the accounts, she called back the next day and told an employee that her ex-husband was with her. A male, who is not named in court documents, posing as Collins’ ex-husband gave the employee the former husband’s Social Security number, date of birth and mailing address and said he wanted to close out the IRA accounts.

As a result of that phone call, the accounts were closed and approximately $29,000 was sent to a post office box Collins had set up. She admitted using the money for a mortgage payment, property taxes and car repairs, according to court documents.

Collins faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge and up to five years in prison on the identity theft charge. In addition to prison time, she could be ordered to pay fines of up to $250,000 on each count. She also is expected to be ordered to pay restitution.

In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Collins waived her right to appeal her sentence to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston as long as it is not longer than 10 months.

A sentencing date has not been set. Collins is free on personal recognizance bail.

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