AUBURN — A Fort Wayne woman is on trial in DeKalb Circuit Court this week, accused of the theft of $151,238 from DeKalb County physician Mark Souder in what was purported to be a business relationship.
Kattia Tarnow is charged with theft, a Level 5 felony. LaGrange County Judge Lisa Bowen-Slaven has been appointed as special judge in the case. A 12-person jury and one alternate were selected to hear the case Tuesday.
Tarnow is accused of exerting unauthorized control over Souder’s money between August 2014 and November 2015.
In a police affidavit of probable cause, Indiana State Police Detective Jake Quick said he began working on the investigation in April 2015.
Souder reported becoming involved in a business relationship with Tarnow in 2007. She offered Souder the opportunity to invest money into the sale of her family estate in Costa Rica. Souder was told if he supported the sale financially, he would be given a sum of $5 million, the affidavit said. In the early stages of the agreement, there was no form of documentation, and the agreement was verbal, Quick said.
Souder began giving money to Tarnow in 2007 and continued to do so through February 2016, the affidavit said. Souder reported giving money for purposes that included attorney fees, document stamps, document fees, travel expenses, fencing and surveys, according to the affidavit.
“The manner of delivery of the money was via wire transfers, Western Union, Money Gram and cash transactions,” the affidavit said. “(Souder) reported giving Mrs. Tarnow a total of approximately $800,000 since 2007. The banks used to negotiate these transactions were listed as Wells Fargo, Wood Forest Bank, Chase Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Peoples Bank. (Souder) reported several of the banks ‘shutting them down’ which caused them to switch banks for transactions or find other means to move money.”
Quick said Souder produced a handwritten document from Tarnow that showed he would receive a distribution of $10 million.
According to the affidavit, Tarnow convinced Souder the estate in Costa Rica sold in 2011 for approximately $200 million. Souder was told the money from the sale was being held in a bank in Nova Scotia under Katmart Enterprises. Souder reported that Tarnow convinced him the money was being held and judges’ stamps and documents were needed to free the money from the bank, the affidavit said.
“(Souder) continued to give large sums of money to Mrs. Tarnow over the period of several years to pay for these items to free the money,” Quick said in the affidavit.
Souder produced a document that Tarnow gave him in 2014 that showed he was to receive a distribution of $41,429,200, the affidavit said.
Souder provided bank records that showed thousands of dollars being wired to Tarnow and her husband, Keith Tarnow. He also produced documents to show he had given Tarnow several thousands of dollars through Money Gram and Western Union, according to the affidavit.
Quick said he spoke with Tarnow at the Auburn Police Department, and she confirmed she was involved with Souder in what she described as a business relationship.
“She described inheriting land in Costa Rica with her family which was previously owned by her late father Hector Martinez-Martinez. She admitted (Souder) gave her approximately $500,000 over the past several years. She described using some of the money given to her for the ‘deal.’ She also described using some of the money for travel expenses. She disclosed some of the money given was used by her at various casinos. She described using the ‘winnings’ from the casino for the purpose (Souder) provide the money,” the affidavit said.
Quick said Tarnow admitted during an interview the land in Costa Rica sold, but not for the amount it was said to have sold for.
“Mrs. Tarnow insisted she and her family owned land in Costa Rica and advised she could provide proof through documents, which she has failed to do,” Quick said.
Tuesday, Souder testified that over time, Tarnow’s stated value of the estate increased as well as the amount she said he would receive.
Souder said he also introduced Tarnow to then-auctioneer Dean Kruse of Auburn, who also invested in Tarnow’s business deal. Later, as Kruse experienced financial difficulties, he pulled away, Souder said. Kruse is expected to testify during this week’s trial.
“Why did you give her all that money?” DeKalb County Prosecutor ClaraMary Winebrenner asked Souder.
“The goal was for her family to be able to enjoy what their father had left them,” Souder said. “I was perfectly willing to help them with that. As Dean (Kruse) had less and less money, I put in more and more money. I was promised a lot for my help.”
Winebrenner produced bank record summaries that showed transactions made between Souder and the Tarnows. Over a specific period, Souder lost $101,369, he testified, in addition to providing credit cards and cash.
Souder said he did not authorize Tarnow to use the money for personal expenses or for gambling. He said he did not receive adequate documentation to prove the money was being used for what was intended. He said there was a lack of receipts and “excuses.”
After initially talking to police, Souder said, he did not push for the case to move forward.
“I was still under the illusion that Kattia may be able to produce the promises that she’d made,” Souder said.
After he turned her in to the police, Souder said, Tarnow was “extremely angry with me because I had basically lost faith in what she was telling me.”
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.
“This must be embarrassing for you … Why did you come forward with this criminal case?” Winebrenner asked Souder.
“I needed to know what the truth was. I needed help to figure out whether there was a reality behind this,” Souder replied.
The trial continues today.