Mt. Juliet Couple Charged in Million Dollar Scheme to Defraud Automobile Auction

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October 23, 2023 – A federal grand jury returned an indictment last week charging Stephanie Louise Baker, 53, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., Brian Baker, 52, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., and Jerry W. Hutchins, 48, of Dowelltown, Tenn., for engaging in a wire fraud and money laundering scheme to defraud a used automobile auction business in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, announced United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee.

All three defendants surrendered to federal agents last Friday and made an appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge that day.

The federal indictment charges Stephanie Baker and Brian Baker, who are married, and Hutchins with a wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. The indictment also charges all three defendants with substantive offenses for acts of money laundering.

According to the indictment, between February 2017 and November 2018, Stephanie Baker was the General Manager of the Dealers Auto Auction Group’s Murfreesboro auction location. Brian Baker and Jerry Hutchins each owned and operated used car dealerships and did business at the auction. The defendants devised a scheme to defraud Dealers Auto Auction Group, LLC by creating fake transactions to make it appear that the defendants’ businesses had sold cars at the auction and were entitled to receive funds from Dealers Auto Auction Group, when in fact the defendants had not sold vehicles at the auction. Based on the fake transactions, Stephanie Baker caused Dealers Auto Auction Group to issue checks to Brian Baker’s and Hutchins’ businesses. Then, monthly, the defendants would create additional fake transactions using the same vehicles in order to conceal the original fraud and avoid detection. Brian Baker and Hutchins then converted proceeds of the fraud scheme for their own personal use and benefit.

As a result of this scheme, the defendants defrauded Dealers Auto Auction Group of more than $2 million.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy, the money laundering conspiracy, and the concealment money laundering offenses, and up to 10 years in prison for money laundering. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation in which the government seeks to forfeit any property derived from the proceeds of the crimes, including a money judgment in the amount of at least $2,041.170 from Stephanie Baker, $1,357,310 from Brian Baker, and $683,830 from Jerry Hutchins.

This case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Suedekum is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Tennessee

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