BOSTON (AP) - A Pittsburgh woman who prosecutors say defrauded advertisers and exhibitors out of thousands of dollars with a fake Boston bridal show pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud and identity theft as part of a plea deal.
Karen Tucker, 47, entered a plea to U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns after agreeing to waive indictment on the charges in exchange for a lenient sentence.
Prosecutors recommended a five-year prison sentence for Tucker, who sat nervously in court while Stearns repeatedly asked if she understood the plea agreement. "Yes, your honor," Tucker, wearing a blue prison suit, said after each question as she sat with her legs shackled together.
Her attorney, Brad Bailey, is asking Stearns for a three-year sentence.
Tucker and an uncharged coconspirator allegedly posed as representatives of a business known as The Boston 411, which promoted a nonexistent home and bridal show at the Hynes Convention Center in March.
The heavily promoted show promised exhibitors face time with thousands of pre-registered brides-to-be, though few were actually lined up, authorities said. Prosecutors said Tucker and the other person collected fees in advance from exhibitors, but used most of the money for personal expenses, including rent, meals at restaurants and shopping trips to Wal-Mart.
The two are accused of conducting similar scams in Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas. Tucker told Stearns that she served in the Marines in the 1980s and had been treated in the past for schizophrenia and a "social disorder." Tucker said she no longer was taking any medication for those disorders.
After Tucker entered the plea, Bailey told reporters outside the federal courthouse that his client took responsibility for her conduct. "She clearly wants to put this behind her," Bailey said.
Bailey said he plans to bring up Tucker's past during sentencing but would not say if he would discuss her past schizophrenia. However, Bailey said he would discuss a possible motive and her "personal history." Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 12.