For Immediate Release
Contact: Robert Hughes
202-483-5700 or 703-527-0237
WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 9 -- The United States Attorney in Philadelphia filed a criminal indictment against Russell Pritchard, III on March 15 charging that he had fraudulently appraised Civil War items. One of Pritchards co-defendants pleaded guilty on May 15 to two charges of fraud and two of perjury.
On January 3, D.C. Superior Court Judge William M. Jackson had refused to allow the deposition of Mr. Pritchard in a civil case against the Confederate Memorial Association (CMA) involving another of Pritchards appraisals. Lawyers for Vicki Heilig of the National Association of Securities Dealers, who had bought the action against the CMA on behalf of herself and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, contended that they would not produce Mr. Pritchard "unless the judge orders us to."
John Edward Hurley, president of the Confederate Memorial Association, said that Judge Jackson must have known of the impending indictment because his wife, Susan Sinclaire, works at the U.S. Justice Department in the Office of Domestic Terrorism and Violent Crime. "For a judge to take the unusual step of denying the deposition of an individual who was currently being investigated by the FBI is strange to say the least," Hurley said, "and would certainly indicate a probability that the judge had prior knowledge."
Hurley said that Pritchard had valued a Confederate flag at $25,000 without having seen the flag. Heiligs other expert witness, Thomas Weschler, senior vice president of Adam Weschler & Sons of Washington, D.C. whose deposition was also denied by Judge Jackson, had based all his appraisals in the CMA case on photographs. Both expert witness evaluations resulted in the transfer of $107, 000 from the CMA bank account without a court order. In addition, Hurley believes that Heiligs sworn claim of $400,000 in expenses is untrue.
Pritchard has been charged in the indictment with multiple charges of fraud, making a false statement and witness tampering, all charges that Hurley said he intended to prove in his $5 million civil action against Heilig and "her co-conspirators."
Pritchards fraudulent appraisals came to light after George Pickett, V filed a civil suit claiming that Pritchard had defrauded him out of $800,000 for items that belonged to his progenitor, Confederate General George Pickett of "Picketts Charge."
If convicted, Russell Pritchard, III faces 130 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines.