CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Stanley Choate Eaves Sr., 82, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer today and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for defrauding eight victims of more than $350,000, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
According to filed documents and as Eaves admitted in court today, from 2015 to 2020, Eaves executed a scheme to defraud at least eight victim-investors in North and South Carolina, some of whom were elderly, of over $350,000, by inducing them to invest money in his purported vehicle resale business. Court documents show that Eaves presented himself to his victims as the owner of a business that dealt in the resale of vehicles, primarily cars and trucks, and occasionally golf carts and farm equipment. Eaves also falsely represented that he had a partner in his business.
According to court documents, to induce victim-investors to loan him their money, Eaves represented to potential victim-investors that he had a business and/or business opportunity to buy vehicles, sometimes through auctions or estate sales, and then to resell those vehicles for a profit. Victim-investors would agree to invest or loan money to Eaves (investment-loans), often in intervals of $5,000 or $10,000, tied to what the victim-investors thought were particular vehicle buying opportunities. In exchange, Eaves would agree to repay the investment-loans at a certain point in the future, and to pay returns or dividends to the victim-investors, sometimes monthly and other times a certain amount tied to the resale of each vehicle. Court records show that Eaves would then take the victim-investors’ money and use it for various personal expenses and/or to make Ponzi-style payments to earlier victim-investors who had been promised dividends or returns for existing investment-loans.
According to filed court documents, to add an air of legitimacy to these fraudulent deals, Eaves often presented his victim-investors with a “Promissory Note”, sometimes falsely representing that the note had been prepared by his attorney. While Eaves was still making payments to the victim-investors pursuant to the initial agreements and investments, he would often fraudulently induce the victim-investors to enter into additional deals and/or agreements, in close succession, obtaining tens of thousands of dollars of additional investments. As Eaves admitted in court today, he would eventually stop making the purported return or dividend payments to the victim-investors. When the victim-investors demanded their dividends or other payments and/or the return of their investment-loans, Eaves made up various excuses as to why the payments could not be made and/or the investment-loans returned, including that the IRS or FBI had put a hold on, or frozen, his account, that the money was overseas and Eaves could not access the accounts, or that Eaves needed his business partner’s signature on the checks and that his business partner was out of town.
Eaves was released on bond following his guilty plea. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date for Eaves has not been set.
The FBI led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Maria Vento, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.
In March 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s for the Western District of North Carolina announced the Office’s Elder Justice Initiative, which aims to combat elder financial exploitation by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors; educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid becoming victims of financial fraud; and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners. For more information please visit: