King County prosecutors have charged a 41-year-old man with first-degree theft in connection with allegedly conning $2.3 million from a Kent businessman.
Ron Stevens, also known as Tim Ephram, faces four counts of first-degree theft after he reportedly persuaded the Kent man to give him money to pay for legal fees for a probated estate for Stevens’ deceased father, according to charging papers filed March 11.
In exchange for the fees, Stevens agreed to turn over one-third (about $165 million) of the estate’s ($500 million) assets to the Kent man. The businessman later discovered everything reportedly was an elaborate scheme to defraud him and no such estate existed.
The current whereabouts of Stevens are unknown. Stevens, who does not have a known address, is scheduled to be arraigned March 21 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent if police can find him.
Prosecutors have requested bail be set at $500,000 when Stevens is found to assure his appearance in court. Stevens is a self-described “gypsy” with few ties to the community. He has used two different dates of birth and is associated with at least six social security numbers. He has a 2005 Pierce County conviction for first-degree theft.
The Kent man reported the fraud to Kent Police in March 2009. He told detectives he had been giving money to Stevens since 2005, according to charging papers. He said he had known Stevens for several years and met him when Stevens worked as a used-car salesman in Kent where the businessman sold used vehicles from his private company.
Stevens told the man about his father’s death in 2005 and said he needed money to help pay for legal fees to close the estate and access the monies. He told the Kent businessman it was a chance to invest in the estate. The Kent man paid Stevens with cashier checks and helped pay some of his personal expenses.
No receipts were obtained to document the financial exchange by time, date or amount, according to charging papers.
When the businessman could not get Stevens to update the status of the probate or give him the name of the attorney handling the case, Stevens ceased contact with the man.
The businessman, who did not receive any money from Stevens, asked his attorney to look into the manner and learned Stevens had previously perpetrated the same scheme on several other people in the Puget Sound region.
A business associate of the Kent man also invested in the scheme and allegedly lost $171,000 to Stevens.