A 47-year-old Meriden woman pleaded guilty Tuesday in connection with a conspiracy to hide money her husband stole from the Jefferson County bank where he was president, federal prosecutors said.
Brenda Schmitt Becker entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Topeka to one count of conspiracy and agreed to forfeit her interest in property the couple owned in Jefferson County, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement.
The government agreed to drop its claims on a 42-foot catamaran the couple purchased in hopes of leaving the country. Her husband, Scott D. Becker, is serving a six-year sentence at a federal minimum-security prison in Florida on a conspiracy conviction.
Prosecutors alleged the crimes started in 1999 — when Becker was president and CEO of Countrywide Bank, formerly Meriden State Bank — and he tried to hide assets in 2003 after he was fired.
Brenda Schmitt Becker admitted in her plea that her husband devised a scheme to make it appear she was indigent once he learned the FBI was investigating him. She helped him liquidate, transfer and conceal his assets to keep the government from taking them to collect on fines, forfeitures and restitution, Grissom’s office said.
In her plea she admitted to:
• Creating a fictitious mortgage falsely claiming she had loaned her husband more than $1 million.
• Selling more than $422,000 worth of property in Finney County in western Kansas, liquidating a firearms collection for more than $425,000 and selling mineral rights in Finney County for more than $78,000.
• Purchasing a 1997 Jeantot Marine 42-foot Privilege Catamaran yacht named “Pearls and Boots” and buying a corporation in Panama for the purpose of liquidating and transferring assets.
• Forming a Nevada corporation to act as a holding company where the couple could park real estate and personal property until they could be sold and the proceeds moved offshore.
Her sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 29, and the parties have agreed to a sentence of one year plus one day, Grissom’s office said. Assistant U.S. attorneys Richard Hathaway and Christine Kenny, a former Douglas County district attorney, prosecuted the case.