Independence Police Detective Honored for Child Pornography Investigation; FBI Agent, Forensic Accountant Honored for Elder Fraud Investigation
KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an Independence, Mo., police detective, an FBI agent and a forensic accountant for the FBI have received the Guardian of Justice Award.
Independence Police Detective Allison Verman, FBI Special Agent Kacie Laidacker and FBI Forensic Accountant Brian Koechner were honored on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, during the 13th Annual LECC Training Seminar in Springfield, Mo.
Verman was the lead detective and was instrumental in the prosecution of Morgan Littleton, 34, of Independence. Littleton was sentenced on May 19, 2015, to 60 years in federal prison without parole, which is the maximum statutory penalty after pleading guilty to two counts of using a child victim to produce child pornography.
During an investigation regarding a domestic violence assault, the victim of the assault informed police that she discovered evidence that Littleton was having a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old daughter. Police officers executed a search warrant at Littleton’s residence, where he resided with three adult women, who referred to him as “Master,” in a polygamous BDSM relationship, as well as with the victim child and another minor female.
Officers seized computers, cameras and digital media. They found 12 video segments on a memory card, some of which appeared to have been filmed in a hotel room between Jan. 18 and March 25, 2013. The videos depicted Littleton engaging in illicit sexual activity with the child victim. In a forensic interview, the child victim reported that Littleton had been molesting her once or twice a week.
Verman, who was new to investigating sex crimes, sought assistance and guidance from other detectives and forensic analysts and educated herself on aspects of this type of BDSM relationship. She tracked down reports and evidence, and spent a great deal of time preparing the case for presentation to the grand jury. She was a committed investigator and, more importantly, developed trust with the victim and her family.
Kacie Laidacker & Brian Koechner
Laidacker and Koechner not only assisted in the successful prosecution of Linda Scaife, 72, of Lenexa, Kan., for elder fraud, but were able to seize significant funds from her bank accounts to pay restitution to family members.
Shortly after Erma Giaccetti’s 84th birthday, she became the victim of Scaife’s fraud scheme. Over the next three years, Scaife isolated Giaccetti from her family, stole most of her life savings, sold her home and moved Giaccetti 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. Scaife obtained power of attorney and medical power of attorney over Giaccetti. Scaife forbid the nursing home from allowing any family visits. Scaife liquidated Giaccetti’s bank accounts, insurance policies, IRAs and CDs. The liquidated funds were transferred into joint bank accounts newly opened by Scaife.
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, they obtained a seizure order from the court. Ten months later, in February 2014, 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 who grew up with a loving grandmother. The last years of Giaccetti’s life were filled with confusion, bitterness and frustration for the grandchildren. 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 healing for the Giaccetti family.
Guardian of Justice Award
The annual Guardian of Justice Award recognizes a state or local officer as well as a federal agent 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.