November 1, 2013
This case starts with a knock on a door in 2008. Standing outside is Akihiko Siegfried, formerly of Denver, CO and in his late 40s at the time. An 89-year-old widower of Japanese descent with little family opens the door of his home. As the scene unfolds, Siegfried is crying and seems distraught - he tells the homeowner a tale about having no family because his parents had just died in a car crash. The homeowner asks Siegfried if he was Japanese, which he replied that he was. The common bond of a shared Japanese heritage seems to have prompted the victim to help out the distraught stranger.
An Orphan's Promise
As Siegfried works his con on the old man, he gets around to the point where he is broke and needs to borrow some cash. Not to worry, though, Siegfried tells the trusting lender that he is going to inherit a ton of money from his parents' estate, but for the fact that it's going to be tied up in probate for a bit.
And so it goes. A few more flourishes. A bit of nonsense about an ongoing need to pay fees and taxes during the supposed probate. The year 2008 turns into 2009, then 2010, and, we make our way to April 2013; during all that time, Siegfried professes great affection for his elderly benefactor. It seems as if they have become friends, close friends . . . almost like family.
A Guest of the State
There's this odd thing about all those passing years. Seems that from March 2009 through March 2013, Siegfried frequently spent time as an inmate in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Our intrepid con artist, however, still found a way to telephone and write letters to his elderly pal and asking for wire transfers of additional cash to his inmate account. During his periods of incarceration, Siegfried also added a nuance: he told his elderly victim that he needed to pay out of his own funds for diabetes medicine and, of course, the ongoing probate fees and taxes on his windfall inheritance.
In Sickness And Death
Interesting fact about Siegfried having diabetes and needing to pay for his medicine. Colorado Department of Corrections inmates are not required to pay for medicine prescribed to them while they are in custody. Of course, Siegfried had never taken diabetes medicine - and, one other thing, he had never been diagnosed with diabetes.
Another nuance to the tale of woe. In truth, Siegfried's father had died in the 1990s, and his mother in 2002. Further, there was no inheritance, nothing was wending its way through any probate proceedings, and there weren't any estate taxes or probate fees.
Time Well Saved
In October 2012, when Siegfried was released from prison, he received a $49,655.30 check payable to himself from the State of Colorado/Department of Corrections; of that sum, at least $10,000 were wired-in funds from his elderly victim. Additionally, from January 2008 through March 2013, the elderly victim gave at least $400,001 to Siegfried.
Enter The Feds
On June 17, 2013, Siegfried was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver, CO, with 17 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
On October 30, 2013, Siegfried, age 54, pled guilty in the United States District Court for Colorado to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. At sentencing, Siegfried faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine for the mail fraud count; and up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine on the money laundering count. He will also be ordered to pay between $400,001 to $560,861 in restitution.