AUBURN — A deal involving an estate in Costa Rica has cost a DeKalb County physician both financially and emotionally, he told a DeKalb County jury Wednesday.
Dr. Mark Souder testified on the second day of a jury trial in DeKalb Circuit Court. Kattia Tarnow of Fort Wayne is accused of the theft of $151,238 from Souder in what was purported to be a business relationship. The alleged offense is a Level 5 felony.
Tarnow is accused of exerting unauthorized control over Souder’s money between August 2014 and November 2015. According to a police affidavit of probable cause for her arrest, Souder reported becoming involved in a business relationship with Tarnow in 2007. She offered Souder the opportunity to invest in the sale of her family estate in Costa Rica, saying he would receive money in return. Over time, the amount Tarnow told Souder he would receive increased from $5 million initially to more than $41 million in 2014, the affidavit indicated.
Souder reported giving Tarnow a total of approximately $800,000 since 2007, the affidavit said. He told police that Tarnow convinced him money from the sale of the estate was being held in a bank in Nova Scotia, and judges’ stamps and documents were needed to free the money from the bank, the affidavit said.
Souder said he never has received any money from the estate in Costa Rica and Tarnow has not paid back any of the money he gave her.
Wednesday, Souder testified he had believed that if he had walked away and ceased participating in the deal, “All of my efforts would have gone for nought.”
“What has this deal cost you?” DeKalb County Prosecutor ClaraMary Winebrenner asked Souder.
“It cost me a variety of things,” Souder said, citing both the emotional and financial impacts it has had on him, as well as causing self-doubt and grief and “wondering why I got involved in the first place.”
Tarnow’s attorney, Marcia Linsky, referred to a phone call between Tarnow and Souder in which Tarnow offered to pay him his money.
Souder acknowledged Tarnow had made that statement.
“Has she paid you back in the last three years?” Winebrenner countered.
“No,” Souder replied.
“Has she paid you anything?” Winebrenner went on.
“No,” Souder said.
Souder acknowledged he had been unable to confirm whether Tarnow had received anything from the estate.
Wednesday, the jury also heard testimony from former auctioneer Dean Kruse of Auburn, who also had invested in Tarnow’s business deal. Kruse said he was introduced to Tarnow by Souder.
“She needed some money to help her with her dad’s estate,” Kruse recalled.
Kruse said he visited Costa Rica several times and viewed the property in question. Kruse said he negotiated a deal where Tarnow’s aunt would pay $175 million for the property, and Kruse was to make $14 million for his part.
Tarnow told Kruse a closing had been set, but her aunt wished to postpone it in order to take a trip to Spain. Kruse said Tarnow told him that while her aunt was in Spain, her aunt had died. Kruse acknowledged he never met the aunt.
Kruse said he stopped making payments to Tarnow after his business fell on hard times around 2010. Kruse testified that Souder said he would take over making the payments for as long as he could afford.
“Have you ever gotten any of the money you were supposed to get for this?” Winebrenner asked Kruse.
“No,” Kruse responded.
Also testifying Wednesday was Tarnow’s former friend, Kris White, who told the jury how she provided money to Tarnow to help her get her inheritance.
“I believed her story at the time.” White said. “It was not a gift. The expectation was once she got her money that she’d pay me back. … We were going to have this great life with a lot of money.”
White said based on her records, she lost a total of $93,000.
“How much of that has she paid back?” Winebrenner asked.
“Zero,” White replied.
White said she did not respond to police inquiries earlier in the case when Souder had gone to the police in 2016.
“I was embarrassed,” she said. “I thought I’d been conned.”
The trial continues today.