By Carmen Russo
Allegedly defrauded elder family and friends before, while and after being imprisoned
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Robert Oathout, 35, of Hartford, Conn., has been arraigned in federal court in Rhode Island on charges that he allegedly defrauded family members and family friends of at least $398,000. According to court documents, it is alleged that Oathout told the victims that he needed to borrow money from them to pay medical expenses in advance of his receipt of a one million dollar settlement payment. He claimed he was due the settlement as the result of a botched medical procedure performed on him at a Hartford medical facility. Oathout told the victims that the medical facility would repay them upon payment of the settlement.
According to court documents filed in this case, no such medical procedure occurred and no such settlement payment was due Oathout. It is alleged that a portion of the fraudulently obtained money was used by Oathout to pay gambling debts.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Field Division, today announced the return on June 30, 2016, of a federal indictment which charges Oathout with eight counts of wire fraud. The indictment was unsealed on Thursday following Oathout’s arrest in Hartford by FBI agents and his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Providence. A not guilty plea was entered.
According to the indictment and information provided to the court, it is alleged that as part of the scheme, between September 27, 2013, and December 22, 2015, Oathout fraudulently induced his victims, all between the ages of 67 an 87 years, to transfer funds to him electronically. Electronic transfers of varying amounts were made to Oathout before, while and after he was a federal inmate at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, R.I. Some of the funds were transferred into his and other inmates’ prison accounts while he was detained on federal drug charges in an unrelated case brought against him by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.
An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
At the conclusion of a detention hearing today, Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond ordered that Oathout, who has been in custody since his arrest on Thursday, be released on the terms of his current federal probation which was imposed at sentencing on his previous drug conviction.
Wire fraud is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment; a fine of up to $250,000; and up to 3 years supervised release.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Hebert. The matter was investigated by the FBI.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Field Division, acknowledge and thank investigators at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.