An Alabama-born Florida man is expected to plead guilty Thursday to federal wire and mail fraud and money laundering charges, all related to his alleged romance scams that netted him more than $750,000 from at least 21 women in eight states.
Brian Brainard Wedgeworth, 46, was indicted last October and arrested in Nashville not long afterward.
The indictment says that Wedgeworth told the women he was a wealthy doctor and surgeon, using at least 13 different aliases, Fresh Take Florida reports on WUFT. Thursday’s plea won’t even be his first: He’s pleaded guilty to dozens of fraud and forgery charges in Georgia and Alabama, and court records show he was wanted in Ohio and Alabama when he was arrested last year.
Tekesia Johnson’s story is typical. She met “Brian L. Adams” on the dating site Plenty of Fish in 2017. She was careful. She even told “Adams” — who was in truth Wedgeworth — that she was broke when he asked about her financial status. But when he offered to pay off her debts and sent her $20,000, she relaxed. A little.
Adams asked Johnson for a favor. He asked her to finance a Rolex watch for him to help her rebuild her credit. He would pay her back, he said. Johnson didn’t want to go that far, so she bought two lesser brand watches for $3,000 and met him at a mall in Jacksonville to hand them over.
And then her bank called. The $20,000 Adams used to pay off her bills bounced for insufficient funds. A search of Google found mugshots, except they were for Brian Wedgeworth and not Brian Adams. And he wasn’t a doctor.
Wedgeworth disappeared from Johnson’s life. She never gave up searching for him, but she died a month before the indictment.
Wedgeworth has been scamming since at least 1996, when he pleaded guilty to charges in Jefferson County, Alabama. But he’s rarely served a full sentence.
“Fraud is the best job in the world,” says Francesca Gervascio-Franzen, an administrator of the Beware Romance Scammers Facebook group. “He’s going to go back to just doing it again.”
Wedgeworth never lived an extravagant life, despite the cash, Super Bowl tickets, and expensive watches he received.
Maybe this time he’ll spend some real time in prison. If his guilty plea is accepted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Tiffany Maximin, Tekesia Johnson’s 30-year-old daughter, says she thinks her mom is posthumously behind the federal indictment.
“Once she passed away, I think that was her spirit finding him and making sure justice was served,” Maximin said. “That was my mom’s doing. That was her final hurrah.”
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[Featured image: Brian Wedgeworth/2019 booking photo from Suwanee County Sheriff’s Office]