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.

Youth Who Violently Mugged 2 Elderly Women Sent Off To Prison

A 20-year-old who was charged with the robbery and beating of a 71-year-old woman in the Northgate Mall parking lot and an 80-year-old woman at the Mapco on Highway  58 was sent off to state prison after entering guilty pleas on Thursday. Carlos Kirksey, who was 19 at the time of the Jan. 12, 2016, attack, was given a three-year prison term on two robbery counts. He got ... (click for more)

Another Snag Stalls Approval For County Schools To Deed East Ridge High Athletic Facilities To The City Of East Ridge

Another snag has stalled the transfer by the county schools of the East Ridge High athletic complex to the city of East Ridge. School board attorney Scott Bennett said the attorney for East Ridge asked for a brief delay. He said East Ridge is concerned that, because the county schools retain certain rights regarding the property, that it might prevent the city from getting ... (click for more)

Bikers Need To Have Licenses And Insurance - And Response

I am okay with Haslam’s idea of raising the gas tax and lowering the food tax.  But, I want to see a tax of bicycles since they have their own lanes now and they also have to be maintained. How much revenue would that bring in?  I would think if we have enough bike riders to have the lanes in the first place, there must be enough to generate some money for road improvements. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where Is Central’s Auditorium?

I am surely one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics there is, especially after half a decade of being an eye witness to the vast array of lessons that are learned every day by anyone associated with sports. That said, I have watched the Hamilton County Commission waffle on a $500,000 track at Central High School with a certain curiosity because the same high school ... (click for more)

Smooth-Operating Cameron Leads Tyner Past 'Canes

(Story will be updated) Tyner may occasionally have an off night scoring, but that Rams defense is always on. East Hamilton found that out Thursday night in a hot Tyner Academy gymnasium. It didn’t rain points. Tyner, coming off an impressive key District 6-2A win over rival Brainerd on Tuesday, stifled the Hurricanes’ attack and came away with a 49-39 victory. ... (click for more)

Cleveland Wrestlers Whip Walker Valley, 60-12

The undefeated and top-ranked Cleveland Blue Raider wrestling team just keeps rolling along, winning the close ones and also winning the ones not so close. Thursday night at Walker Valley, the Blue Raiders recorded five pins, three technical falls and two forfeits in a 60-12 victory over the Mustangs. Those pins came from Bryce Pond, Colton Landers, Austin Sweeney, Dylan Jones ... (click for more)