Pair accused of sending hotel bill to U.N.

Woman, son are suspects in wire fraud case

April 16, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville woman and her son have been charged with posing as members of a U.S. mission to the United Nations and trying to stick the secretary-general with a $30,000 hotel bill.

Sandra Lynn Bennie, 56, of the 7400 block of Village Road was released to a relative's custody Thursday after appearing before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. She was arrested by FBI agents at her home Thursday.

She and her son, Anton Seutter von Loetzen, 32, of Los Angeles are accused of teaming up to obtain goods and services from a Holiday Inn in Burbank, Calif., under false pretenses, according to a complaint filed by federal prosecutors in New York.

Bennie and Seutter von Loetzen were each charged with wire fraud and impersonation of a federal officer. Seutter von Loetzen was arrested in Los Angeles about 5 p.m. Thursday and was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in California on Friday.

Federal prosecutors allege that in August Bennie contacted a lending company in California, claiming she and her son were American ambassadors to the U.S. mission to the United Nations and needed a line of credit to set up a new U.N. office in Hawaii. In the credit application, Bennie stated that bills should be sent to the United Nations' accounting department in New York, according to the complaint. The lending company contacted the United Nations, and the application was denied.

Later that month, Bennie called the Holiday Inn in Burbank, Calif., to make a reservation for her son, "Ambassador Anton Seutter," the complaint said. Prosecutors allege that she told the hotel staff her son would be staying there while setting up the office in Hawaii to benefit underprivileged children and asked that all charges be forwarded to the U.N. accounting department.

The complaint said the hotel allowed Seutter von Loetzen to check in Aug. 30 after he showed the clerk what appeared to be government identification. Over the next three months, he ran up a $30,000 hotel bill that included charges for long-distance calls, in-room movies and meals, the complaint said.

Shortly after Seutter von Loetzen was evicted from the hotel in December, the complaint said, Bennie faxed a copy of the bill to the United Nations with a handwritten memo that said it was "OK to pay" the hotel charges.

If convicted on both counts, the pair could receive a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

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