MILFORD, OH (FOX19) - Brenda Ashcraft of Milford, the indicted real estate agent whose license is no longer active, appeared inside a federal courtroom Friday afternoon to hear a magistrate formally tell her that she's been indicted by a grand jury on three counts of fraud.
Inside the packed courtroom were some of the investors who accuse her of fooling them into entrusting her with $15 million of their money. Among them, John Gilbert. He's a car dealer from West Chester who accuses Ashcraft of defrauding him of $535,000. According to Gilbert, everything was fine at first. He was getting nice returns on what he believed were legitimate real estate investments. But then, he says, the checks Ashcraft wrote him last fall started bouncing.
"I was still hopeful, based on her mannerisms, that I was going to be paid back," Gilbert told us near the courthouse steps after the hearing.
But he says eventually Ashcraft would say that she was too busy to talk to him about it and would hang-up on him. He now calls the investment a Ponzi scheme.
Because cameras aren't allowed inside federal courtrooms, members of the media were camped-out at both exits of the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse waiting on Ashcraft to emerge. As FOX19 was interviewing Gilbert, Ashcraft finally came walking down the steps with her husband and attorneys.
See the moment when Matthew Nordin realized Brenda Ashcraft was leaving the courthouse: http://www.fox19.com/category/240225/video-landing-page?clipId=9232100&autostart=true
When we caught-up with her and asked where her investors' money is, Ashcraft at first said, "No comment."
"I did nothing wrong," she also told us. But she wouldn't have the last word. As Ashcraft and her entourage continued to walk down several city blocks, trailed by camera crews, investor John Gilbert was following, too. And he took the opportunity to ask his own questions and give commentary on the case.
"I want to hear an admission of guilt," Gilbert said around Main and 4th. "I want to hear that she is sorry for ruining people's lives."
"Not guilty," Gilbert said simply.
However, seconds later, her attitude changed. Her voice became more forceful.
"I'm not guilty!" she said loudly. "That's why I'm walking!"
"But you've been indicted," FOX19 pointed-out to her. "So that doesn't mean anything."
We then asked again: "If you're not guilty, where is the money?"
We got no answers.
"Where are you headed now?" we asked near a high-rise along 4th Street.
Ashcraft said nothing.
Led by her attorneys, she walked through a revolving door that spun much more slowly than the minds of investors desperately wanting answers about what's happened to their life savings. On this day, they got no answers.