Wire Transfers To South Pittsburg Address Led Federal Authorities To Bizarre Blackmail Case

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Federal authorities said a marijuana investigation centering on a South Pittsburg man turned up 15 wire transfers that led to the discovery of the bizarre blackmailing of a Scottsdale, Ariz., woman over many years and involving millions of dollars.

Mary Roach and her ex-husband, Steven Dale Audette, of Laredo, Tex., are set to appear in Chattanooga Federal Court on Monday on wire fraud charges.

Ms. Roach, who authorities said uses numerous aliases, is the sister of Ricky Roach of South Pittsburg.

Authorities said they began investigating Ricky Roach for distributing marijuana that he got from Laredo. During the probe it was found that he received wire transfers totaling $94,390 at Citizens Tri-County Bank in South Pittsburg. Roach used some of the money from those wire transfers to purchase a 2010 Ford Expedition for $33,000 from Moss Motors in South Pittsburg.

Agents said they eventually found that the Scottsdale woman had been making multiple wire transfers to the Roach clan. She sent over $1.5 million that was tracked and eventually had to declare bankruptcy.

Authorities initially believed she was part of a criminal plot and was involved in money laundering. A search of the home of her and her daughter was carried out last Oct. 16.

After the raid and an interview of the woman and her daughter, it was determined that she was being blackmailed to send the money, a federal criminal complaint says.

The woman said she has a rare medical disease and only got relief from her chiropractor. She said she therefore trusted her chiropractor and agreed to his request to send money to Audette, who had gone to chiropractic school with him.

There were at least 397 wire transactions sent between the individuals involved in the investigation from 2003 to 2013. The blackmail began in 1999.

Authorities said the woman (identified only as L.M.) stated that Audette kept demanding money and "eventually Audette informed her the reason he needed the money was because he was on the run from the mafia and that he was working on a secret government investigation. L.M. says that Audette explained to her that she would be paid back all of her money as soon the investigation was over.

"L.M. stated over the years Audette became more threatening in his demands for the money by telling her if he (Audette) was ever captured by the mafia then he would tell the mafia where L.M. lived. L.M. stated Audette had warned her if the mafia showed up at her house, then her grandchildren would be raped and killed by dismemberment. L.M. further stated Audette told her since this was part of a secret government investigation then she (L.M.) could not tell anyone including law enforcement about what was going on or she (L.M.) would ruin the entire investigation and people would end up dead.

"L.M. stated she feared for the safety of her family and herself, so she would send money whenever Audette would call and demand it. L.M. stated Audette would call and send text messages demanding money - many times indicating the secret government investigation was almost over. L.M. indicated that Audette would provide her with the names of people to send the money to. Audette would tell her the people were government agents or that the money was going into a secure government account. L.M. indicated that over time she sent millions of dollars into these accounts at the demands of Audette until she eventually bankrupted herself and exhausted all of her funds."

Authorities said the money was going to Audette and to Mary Roach under many aliases or to her relatives.

Agents said the woman stated "that it became all about the protection of her family and not the money. She felt if she did not send Audette the money when he asked or demanded it, then L.M.'s family would be tortured and killed."

Multiple agencies have been investigating the case since August 2011.

The agencies participating in the investigation include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Intemal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Border Patrol, the Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Marshals Service, the Marion County Tennessee Sheriff's Department, the Chattanooga Police Department; the Tennessee Bureau of lnvestigation and the Tennessee 12th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

Catoosa County Arrest Report For Nov. 20-26

Click  here  for the Catoosa County arrest report for Nov. 13-19. (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Nov. 20-26

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe for Nov. 20-26: Robin Jean Thrasher, 49, of 3301 58th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida was arrested November 20 on charges of driving while license revoked and driving under the influence of drugs. Elias Garcia, 21, of 4034 12th Avenue, Chattanooga was arrested November 21 on charges of driving within a gore or median and driving while license ... (click for more)

City Council, Please Reconsider On The 7-Story Apartment Variance

I would like to thank the Regional Planning Commission and the Regional Planning Agency   for denying the recent application for a variance from the current zoning requirements in place for the 1200 block of Cowart Street. The developers want to build a 7-story parking deck with 141 efficiency and one-bedroom apartments wrapped around three sides in an area with a 48' height ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In December

As the fallen leaves confirm today is the first of December, my monthly walk in life’s garden is more foggy than fun. In much-older times, good children would get a piece of candy on Christmas Day while bad ones would receive a lump of coal. So here are some things that deserve a helping of both: A PIECE OF CANDY to the amazingly few who can spy a nest of mistletoe high in area ... (click for more)

No 1 Connecticut Overwhelms Lady Mocs, 79-31

At least 6,104 basketball enthusiasts got to see what the best women’s college basketball team in the country looks like Monday night at McKenzie Arena. The three-time defending national champion Connecticut Huskies won for the fourth time this season and 41 st game in a row with an impressive 79-31 victory over the Chattanooga Lady Mocs before the seventh-largest crowd in ... (click for more)

Mocs Fall 64-54 At ULM

The Chattanooga Mocs (5-2) five-game-in-10-day road show ended Monday night with a 64-54 loss at ULM (3-2). The squad shot a season-low 35.3 percent (18-51) in the loss. "I felt like we had good shots, especially in the first half,” coach Matt McCall said. “We were getting down the lane and guys were just flat out missing layups. Everyone for the most part was getting in the ... (click for more)