Boulder Resident Honored for Role in Investigation, Conviction of Bozeman Embezzler
This afternoon at a ceremony in Boulder’s Law Enforcement Center, Division of Criminal Investigation Administrator Bryan Lockerby from the Montana Department of Justice presented a plaque to Boulder-area resident Helen Carey to honor her for her role in bringing Bozeman resident Bill Wise to justice. Wise was sentenced to federal prison in 2014 for stealing money from elderly and disabled individuals through his former business, Walking Cross.
Carey, now 77, was the personal representative for the estate of retired teacher Audrey Reese, who died in 2011. After Reese’s death, Wise refused to provide Carey with Reece’s financial records, so Carey obtained them from Reese’s banks. When she discovered that a number of checks written on the accounts seemed inconsistent, Carey reported the matter to law enforcement. An investigation revealed that Wise had stolen more than $87,000 from Reese, and a total of $369,000 from 35 other victims.
Attorney General Tim Fox said of Carey, “It’s important to note that Helen was not an heir to the estate and did not receive any benefits from it. It would have been easy for her to have walked away from the estate after finding that the money was mostly gone and to have let the chips fall where they may, but she didn’t. Because of Helen Carey’s actions, Walking Cross was put out of business, dozens of elderly or disabled Montanans whose money was stolen between 2007 to 2011 now have the opportunity for restitution, and no additional victims suffered a loss from Mr. Wise’s actions.”
DCI Administrator Bryan Lockerby said, “We could assume that Wise would have eventually been caught stealing from some of our most vulnerable citizens, but in the meantime, he continued to take money from people, even after we searched his business in 2011. Eventually, we agreed to work the case through the federal system with agents from Social Security, the Veteran’s Administration and the FBI. Mr. Wise decided to cooperate with the investigation and we had a positive outcome in this case.”
Over the course of three years, Carey called DCI about every six weeks to find out where the case was in the investigation and prosecution phases. Additionally, she arranged interviews with Ms. Reese’s family members for DCI during the early part of the investigation, provided additional information when requested, and drove to Missoula for the sentencing.
Attorney General Fox added, “This serves as a good reminder that it’s imperative to plan carefully when choosing your estate executor. While it’s important for your personal representative to know you well enough to carry out your wishes after you’re gone, this individual should also be prepared to handle any conflicts that arise during the process. Audrey Reese obviously chose very wisely when she selected Helen Carey to represent her estate.”
When presenting the plaque to Ms. Carey, DCI Administrator Bryan Lockerby said, “Helen might be small in stature, but she stood tall in this investigation and merits the recognition we’re giving her today. It’s important to recognize the efforts of our citizens who go above and beyond what the average person does to attempt to hold people accountable for their actions. In this case, it also served to protect a significant number of the most vulnerable of Montana’s citizens.”
Wise was sentenced in August 2014 to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay the entire amount he embezzled from his victims, $369,582.
The Bozeman Police Department and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office were also involved in the early stages of the case.