A Spokane man wants to withdraw his guilty plea for taking lottery winnings from the widow of former Hermiston Police Chief Andy Anderson.
Scott K. Brett, 56, pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud in January. But four days before he was set to be sentenced to possibly five years in prison, he asked U.S. Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. to withdraw his plea.
A hearing is scheduled for June 29 at the Richland U.S. Courthouse in the Federal Building.
Brett said in court documents that he is responsible for losing money belonging to Donna Anderson, but that he did not intend to defraud or mislead her.
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He said he admitted to defrauding or misleading her on the advice of a former attorney, Roger Peven of Spokane.
Even though I strongly disagreed, I was scared and confused so I followed his advice.
Defendant Scott K. Brett
“Even though I strongly disagreed, I was scared and confused so I followed his advice,” Brett said in a court document. He has since hired attorney Scott Johnson of Richland.
Donna Anderson bought the winning ticket for an $18.2 million jackpot in 2003. At the time, it was the third-largest prize in Oregon Megabucks history.
By 2011, she wanted to take the money she had invested with Merrill Lynch in Kennewick to reinvest it to increase earnings. The former police chief had died in 2008.
A friend of one of the couple’s 10 children and stepchildren recommended that she work with Brett to invest what court documents referred to as her “remaining lottery winnings.”
According to a plea agreement, in February 2016 Donna Anderson had $1 million transferred by wire into an escrow account to be used as collateral as part of “a proprietary financial system.”
Her money was supposed to double in two weeks and then continue to double every two weeks until it reached $8 million.
Instead, Brett made withdrawals, paying money to people other than Donna Anderson, according to the plea agreement.
Federal prosecutors are recommending that Brett be sentenced to five years in prison and pay $855,000 in restitution.
She and one of her sons asked for her $1 million back, but only about $145,000 was returned, according to court documents.
After Brett pleaded guilty, he agreed to pay restitution of at least $855,000.
Now, Brett says his original attorney failed to hire a forensic accountant and investigator.
A Utah escrow attorney that Brett believes has $200,000 of the money was not interviewed, Brett said.
The person who ran the short-term investment program could not be found, and he has more than $400,000 of the $1 million, Brett said.
Brett said he also was confused about the guilty plea he made, not understanding that it could not be later reduced to a misdemeanor.
Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney in Spokane said none of those reasons establishes a legal reason to allow Brett to withdraw his guilty plea.
Prosecutors have recommended that Brett be sentenced to five years in prison in addition to paying restitution.