Public Safety

Judge revokes pretrial release pending sentencing for woman convicted in bank fraud

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal judge Monday revoked pretrial release pending sentencing for a Cedar Rapids woman convicted in May for stealing nearly $200,000 from her deceased boyfriend and his mother.

U.S. Chief Magistrate C.J. Williams said Robin Ann Bertelli, 60, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, violated terms of release by testing positive for alcohol, after being given a second chance by him a few months ago when she didn’t comply with testing.

Bertelli was also sued by the victims in the bank fraud but she hasn’t responded to the suit and is in default of the claims as the civil trial started Monday in Linn County District Court.

During Monday’s revocation hearing, Kristi Reynolds, a U.S. Probation Services officer, testified that Bertelli was late turning in a portable alcohol breath machine test in May and then tested positive June 22, showing a .026 blood alcohol content – BAC. The legal limit in Iowa is .08 BAC. Reynolds said Bertelli denied drinking alcohol.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Vavricek also provided evidence from previous drunken driving convictions in state court and prior violations while on probation and release in those cases. Bertelli was on probation for OWI when she committed bank fraud in the federal case.

Judge Williams said there is more evidence than just one failed breath test to show Bertelli’s serious, lengthy history of alcohol abuse in prior court records and pretrial services reports. He ordered her to remain in jail pending sentencing.

A plea agreement shows Bertelli was in relationship with a former Navy SEAL, Ken Martin in 2013, who lived with his elderly widowed mother, Beverly Martin, in rural Central City. Bertelli then moved in with the Martins and started stealing mail from the widow, including items sent to her from Collins Community Credit Union.

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In December 2015, Ken Martin received an inheritance of about $18,000 from a relative and in February 2016, he and Bertelli traveled to Puerto Rico for a vacation, but during the trip, he unexpectedly died.

Bertelli told others that he went swimming, hit his head on a rock, and accidentally drowned, according to court documents.

Beverly Martin eventually discovered that Bertelli had stolen blank checks from her and her son, according to court documents. From July 2013 through September 2016, Bertelli fraudulently wrote 63 checks to herself and forged their signatures. She also fraudulently caused transfers of funds from the credit union, which belonged to Ken Martin and his mother, the plea shows.

Bertelli faces a mandatory minimum of two years and up to 32 years in federal prison and restitution.

Beverly Martin is suing the credit union, claiming it is liable for cashing checks with forged signatures and cashing in certificates of deposit without Martin’s authority. She is also suing Bertelli for illegally transferring funds and asking or punitive damages.

The credit union also has a claim against Bertelli in the lawsuit.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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