Man agrees to guilty plea in felony fraud case
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | April 13,2013
BENNINGTON — A local man is facing a federal charge of felony wire fraud for misappropriating about $170,000 from the estate of a former college professor and sending the money to his own account, but a plea agreement in the case is already in place, according to his attorney.
The charge was filed against Robert F. Baker in U.S. District Court on Friday. The plea agreement was also filed but it has not yet been released to the public.
David Silver, a Bennington attorney who represents Baker, said Baker had agreed to enter a guilty plea but declined to comment on whether there was any sentencing agreement in place.
“Bob Baker has been cooperating with authorities, several authorities, who have been investigating this case. Working together with the U.S. attorney’s office, we have been able to reach a plea agreement. Mr. Baker has agreed to make full restitution,” Silver said.
In a court filing, Gregory Waples, an assistant U.S. attorney, said Baker had been appointed special administrator to the estate of Nada Ledinko of Bennington, who died July 18, 2011.
As special administrator, Baker had the responsibility to collect and maintain Ledinko’s estate until an administrator or executor was appointed, but Waples said Baker misappropriated about $170,000 from the estate between Sept. 1, 2011, and Jan. 6, 2012, by diverting the money to himself.
Waples said Baker stole the money from two checks, which totaled more than $141,000, which had been paid over to him as special administrator by depositing them in his own account in January 2012 and using electronic transfers to place almost $82,000 into a brokerage account he had in New York. Baker also wrote four checks, two for $9,000, one for $8,000 and another for $4,000, against Ledinko’s estate and deposited them into his own business and personal accounts, Waples said.
Ledinko had been a biology professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.