Former WTKR Anchor Allegedly Caught Up In International Scam

By Kevin Eck 

bickford_wtkr_croppedAccording to the The Virginian-Pilot, Juliet Bickford, the anchor who recently resigned from Hampton Roads CBS affiliate WTKR, has allegedly been caught up in an international fraud ring.

Bickford, who faces misdemeanor IRS charges, was sharing a home with man named Theodoros “Terry” Grontis.

Grontis, along with Cullen Johnson and Elaine White are accused of  having “bilked crime victims, divorcees and even one lottery winner out of more than $1 million.”

Court records show Bickford’s bank account was allegedly used to launder the cash.

Bickford has not responded to messages from The Pilot. Her lawyers declined to comment and said she would not be commenting either.

No trespassing signs were posted at the foot of her driveway, and in front of her parents’ home next door. [Rick] Garrity [Bickford’s neighbor] said the signs went up last week.

[IRS Agent Brian] Pelfrey and other IRS and FBI agents spent more than two years putting the case together against White, Johnson and Grontis.

A federal grand jury here indicted them last April on multiple counts of wire fraud, money laundering and evading taxes. Bickford is identified in the indictment only by her initials.

“J.B. served as a conduit for Grontis to receive funds wired from White and Johnson and also served to conceal Grontis’ receipt of these proceeds,” the indictment says.

White and Johnson were arrested in the Turks and Caicos and brought here to face the charges. Each pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. Federal prosecutors said in a court filing that they will seek a prison term of eight or nine years for each when they are sentenced Thursday.

Prosecutors also said that Grontis remains in Greece, where authorities there refuse to turn him over for extradition.

Because of her cooperation, Bickford was charged only with a misdemeanor count of filing a false tax return by claiming $14,000 in medical and dental expenses on her 2011 tax return that she never incurred.

That same year, $107,000 of the fraud money moved through her account. In all, her account received $516,536 from 66 wire transfers between 2009 and 2011, court records say.

Bickford is scheduled to plead guilty to the misdemeanor in federal court this morning.

“Pelfrey and his team did an excellent job bringing these people to justice,” said Cunningham.