04/18/2001

Guilty pleas in eBay art fraud case
[Sacremento, CA]

April 18, 2001
(SACRAMENTO) -- A Sacramento lawyer and a Colorado man have admitted defrauding art buyers by putting worthless paintings up for auction on eBay as the work of well-known artists while placing shill bids to drive up the prices.

Kenneth Walton of Sacramento and Scott Beach of Lakewood, Colo., have agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of a third suspect. Kenneth Fetterman of Placerville, Calif., is now a fugitive.

Walton told a federal judge Tuesday that he and Fetterman bought a picture in a second-hand shop and forged the initials of the artist Richard Diebenkorn. A Dutch businessman purchased the painting on eBay, but the transaction was canceled when eBay discovered that the sellers had placed bids themselves.

A federal prosecutor said that the guilty pleas should alert everyone who trades on line that shill bidding is a crime.

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