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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Accused in eBay scam pleads guilty

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Two men accused of selling fake masterpiece paintings on eBay, an online auction site, and inflating the bid prices pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges.

Both men face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on top of restitution payments. If they cooperate with the federal investigation, they could be sentenced to probation.

Kenneth Walton, 33, pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud. Scott Beach, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and three mail fraud charges.

Walton, a Sacramento attorney, was accused of maintaining nearly 20 eBay login identities that he used to sell and bid on paintings. Those login names were tied to more than 250 auctions, according to court documents.

Beach, of Lakewood, Colo., is also accused of having many login identities that he used to drive up auction prices. Beach's lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.

A third man, Kenneth Fetterman, 33, of Placerville, is a fugitive, prosecutors said. He has been charged with fraud and money laundering. He faces at least 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.

Harold Rosenthal, Walton's attorney, said his client will cooperate with the investigation, but he does not know where Fetterman is living.

Paintings offered for sale included an orange-and-green abstract work on which Walton forged the initials "RD 52" to imply it had been created by renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn, according to court documents.

A Dutch man bought it for $135,805. EBay later dissolved the deal and barred Walton from the Web site.