August 27, 2014

Edwardsville woman charged with stealing money from BackStoppers

A 53-year-old Edwardsville woman was arraigned Wednesday on federal charges that she embezzled money from a benefit fund that was supposed to aid the surviving members of fallen police officers.

The charges accuse Pamela Denise Robtoy of stealing from the U.S. Marshals Survivors Benefit Fund and BackStoppers Inc., and then lying about where the money was when FBI agents questioned her.

The thefts occurred from early 2013 until May 2014, according to the indictment. It was not reported how much money she allegedly took.

U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Williams asked whether she understood the charges against her and each time Robtoy answered in a soft voice, "Yes sir."

Robtoy is charged with theft, embezzlement, wire fraud and making false statements to federal agents conducting a criminal investigation.

Robtoy declined to have the indictment read aloud in open court. She said she had seen it, understood it and had discussed it with her federal public defender, Dan Cronin.

She entered a not-guilty plea through Cronin and was allowed to remain free on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Williams set a trial date of Nov. 3 before U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon.

The U.S. Marshals Survivor Benefit Fund is a private, non-profit organization that was started to raise money for the surviving family members of marshal's service employees killed in the line of duty.

BackStoppers is a similar organization that raises money to benefit the survivors of police officers killed in the St. Louis area and metro-east.

According to the indictment, Robtoy stole money from the third annual John Perry Golf Benefit Tournament that is held to remember Jon Brookman, a deputy U.S. marshal who was killed in the line of duty on March 8, 2011. The proceeds from the 2013 charity event were to go to both organizations.

Robtoy handled he collection of funds from the event held on Oct. 11, 2012, at Stonewolf Golf Club in Fairview Heights. The money included registration fees that were sent and received through the mail.

Robtoy had the contributions , which were in the form of a check and made out to the John Perry Benefit Fund, mailed to her Edwardsville home.

Robtoy transferred money into her personal account and used the money to pay personal expenses, according to the federal indictment.

"Pamela Denise Robtoy continued to solicit charitable contributions to be mailed to her residence knowing that she was diverting portions of the money for her personal use," the indictment said.

Robtoy also lied to federal agents on July 2 in Belleville, where she was interviewed about the missing money.

She faces up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine, plus up to five years in prison if convicted on the perjury charge.

Robtoy told the judge that she has been taking two medications for a heart attack she suffered on Aug. 7. She wrote in a financial statement filed with the court that she has outstanding medical bills and the debt on a car loan she owes is higher than the value of the car. She also said wrote she did not have any equity in her home.

Prosecuting the case are Assistant U.S. Attorney Norm Stewart. Joining him at the prosecution table was Kathy Broderick, who works for the United States Postal Inspection Service.

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